The nicest thing happened to me the other day in the Starbucks drive-through line. When it was my turn to pick up my Grande Coffee, the cashier said that the woman in the car in front of me had already paid for my drink. Wow! Did she say why, I asked? I think she just wanted to do something nice, was the answer. Having someone do something nice for me made me want to do something nice for someone else. I paid for the person’s order behind me, gave a great tip and had a smile on my face the rest of the day.
This experience reminded me of a book I had heard about called, How Full is Your Bucket?, by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton. Superintendent of Schools, Holly Hermansen, talked about it at the annual back to school meeting. She explained how she wanted all of us to participate in a culture of giving in our interactions during the year ahead. It could be a smile, a kindness, or giving a word of support that might fill each other’s metaphorical buckets. What a great precedent to set from the top down for an excellent and supportive work environment. It also made me think about what a great practice this would be for moms and dads to inspire in the whole family.
With the holidays approaching, many families want to enjoy celebrations and gift giving while avoiding feeding the intense craving for “things”—toys, clothes, electronics—the “stuff,” we, and our children, think is going to fill our buckets full of happiness and contentment. Creating a family culture of valuing thoughtfulness is a great way to counterbalance the season’s focus on material things. In this way, we can model and teach about the importance of relationships and how we can fill each other with good feelings by acts of kindness and gifts of time and presence.
How can you make these “bucket-filling” acts fun and gain the children’s participation? You might begin a conversation with young children about these kinds of gifts by saying, “Did you know that some gifts don’t cost money? These are the kinds of gifts we can give all through the year!” It could be fun to brainstorm this list during a family meal.
Another idea might be to place a decorated basket someplace special and family members can write down when they notice someone giving a “bucket-filling” gift. Or people can take a quick photo of a nice moment, such as sister petting the cat, or brother sharing a toy. Perhaps at dinnertime, the family could look and appreciate what family members put in the basket that week. This could highlight the positives and make it fun.
You might even have your children participate in a random act of kindness around town, like what happened to me at Starbucks. You can show them just how fun it is to add a little something to someone else’s bucket! You’ll probably enjoy it too.