My failure to trace the real source of the insight that follows and flows from this paragon of a story will not stop me from sharing this with you.
You may have heard of the cup that overflowed, but this is a story of a bucket that is like a cup - only larger, and invisible. Everyone apparently, even you, has one. And this bucket determines how we feel about ourselves, about others, and generally how we get along with people. Have you, for instance, ever experienced a series of very favourable things which made you want to be good to people for a week? At that time, your bucket was full.
A bucket can be filled by a lot of things that happen. When a person speaks to you, recognizing you as a human being, your bucket is filled a little.
If someone calls you by name, especially if it is the name you like to be called, your bucket is again, filled a little. If someone compliments you on your dress or on a job well done, the level in your bucket goes up still higher.
There are a million ways to raise the level in other people’s buckets. Writing a friendly sms, email or letter; remembering something that is special to a someone; knowing the names of somebody’s children; expressing sympathy for loss; giving someone a hand when their work is heavy; taking time for conversation, or, by just merely listening to someone.
All these, help to raise the level in other peoples’ buckets. And when one's bucket is full of this emotional support, one can express and exude warmth and friendliness to people. But, remember, this is a tale about a bucket and a dipper.
Other people have dippers and in a million ways, they can get their dippers in your bucket. Let us say I am at a dinner and I inadvertently upset a glass of guava juice that spills over the table cloth, onto a lady's skirt, and all the way to the floor.
I will of course be embarrassed.
"Wise One," somebody at the table yells, "You upset that glass of guava juice!"
Yes, I made a mistake, I know I did, and am not denying it but does any smart-Alec have to rub it in? He has nevertheless done it, and he has managed to get his dipper into my bucket, emptying my bucket!
Hence buckets can be filled and can indeed be emptied; emptied many times because people don't really think about what are doing or saying or even writing. Sadly, there is one fundamental truth about empty buckets.
When a person's bucket is emptied, he is a very different being from the person he is when his bucket is full. Let’s say for example, to a person whose bucket is empty, you say: "Those are cool shoes you have!"
He could, inexplicably, reply in a very irritated, defensive manner. Meet the same person, when their bucket is full and say the same thing, you could be pleasantly surprised with a smile, a smile of profound gratitude.
There is however a limit to such an analogy because unfortunately, there exist people in this world who seem to have holes in their buckets.
And when a person has a hole in his bucket, he irritates lots of people because while they are trying to fill his bucket, he is trying to get his dipper in their buckets.
The story of our lives is the interplay of the bucket and the dipper. Everyone has both. The unyielding secret of the bucket and the dipper is that when you fill another's bucket, it does not take anything out of your own bucket.
On the contrary, the level in your own bucket gets higher when you fill another's, and, on the other hand, when you dip into another's bucket you do not fill your own.
For a variety of reasons, people hesitate to fill the buckets of others and consequently do not experience the fun, joy, happiness, fulfilment, and satisfaction that come with making another person happy.
Some reasons for this hesitancy are that people think it sounds "fake" or the other person will be suspicious of the motive, or it is "brown-nosing."
Whatever lame excuses we may want to conjure, let us all put aside our dipper and resolve to touch others’ lives in order to fill their bucket.
There is even a Biblical rendition of this bucket and dipper tale. Does the Bible not say blessed is the hand that giveth?