Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About Bucket Filling

What is the "bucket"?
The bucket represents your mental and emotional self.

How do you feel when your bucket is full?
When your bucket is full, you feel more confident, secure, calm, patient, and friendly. Your thoughts are positive and you expect positive results. When your bucket is overflowing, you experience an intense happiness that can spread to those around you. Have you ever felt better after someone gave you a friendly smile or happy grin? This is the "ripple effect" of a full bucket.

How do you feel when your bucket is empty?
When your bucket is empty, it contains few, if any, positive thoughts or feelings. When your bucket is empty you can easily become sad, negative, insecure, nervous, angry, depressed, stressed, worried, afraid, or physically ill. When you experience any of these feelings, it's easy to believe that life is too challenging and that nothing you attempt will be successful. An empty bucket can affect your behavior and cause you to express your emotions in a way that empties the buckets of those around you.

What affects the level of happiness in your bucket?
Negative life events. The careless or even cruel words and behavior of others can also affect the level of happiness in your bucket. Your own self-talk and thoughts can dramatically reduce or raise the level of happiness in your bucket. It's important to know that you are responsible for what you choose to think and when your thoughts are positive and healthy, your bucket levels will reflect it.

What is Bucket Filling?
Actions or words that show that you care about someone. Saying or doing something kind. Giving someone a heartfelt smile. Using names with respect. Helping without being asked. Giving sincere compliments. Showing respect to others. There are hundreds of wonderful ways to fill buckets. The language of bucket filling has become synonymous with being kind and thoughtful. Your bucket will be filled when, at the close of each day, you reflect on the ways in which you have filled buckets.

What is Bucket Dipping?
Making fun of someone. Saying or doing unkind things. Refusing to help. Failing to show respect or being intentionally disrespectful. This is a partial list of ways in which it's possible to dip into another's bucket. Another is bullying, the behavior that has become the essence of bucket dipping. It is very important that we learn to understand the motivation for these behaviors.

Note: It is also dipping when we unintentionally dip into another's bucket with a thoughtless word or careless action. These are small and should be repaired with a swift, sincere apology.

What does "Use Your Lid" Mean?
Because your bucket represents your emotional and mental health, it is extremely important that you learn to protect the good thoughts and feelings you've collected. The “lid” represents a mental shield against anything that would dip into your bucket. When you consciously train yourself to stop and think through a situation as soon as you feel the hurt, pain, or anger from a painful, embarrassing, or otherwise unpleasant situation you will be able to prevent your bucket from being dipped. As you practice using your lid, you will build the necessary resilience to work through life's challenges. Both children and adults can be taught to use their lids to protect their buckets. It's true that every situation is different, however patience and practice in using your lid combined with trust in your basic bucketfilling instincts, will help you succeed more often than not.

Where did the idea of "Bucket Filling" start?
The idea of a reservoir that is "full" or "filled" dates to biblical times and refers to positive attributes, such as being filled with joy, wisdom, love, faith etc. In the 1960s, Dr. Donald O. Clifton (1924-2003) first created the "Dipper and Bucket" story, which depicted the reservoir as an invisible bucket. Dr. Clifton also co-authored, with his grandson, Tom Rath, the #1 New York Times bestseller, How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life (Gallup Press). This inspiring book is also available in an Educator's Edition. In 2002 the American Psychological Association presented Clifton with its Presidential Commendation for lifetime contributions as "the father of strengths-based psychology and the grandfather of positive psychology." Dr. Clifton's 50 years of research initiated a movement that has increased positive moments and reduced negative moments in countless lives. His legacy of wisdom and inspiration continues today.

Who helped to spread the concept of Bucket Filing?
In the 1970s, John E. Valusek, Ph.D., a respected psychologist and advocate for the prevention of child abuse, wrote about bucket filling and bucket dipping in his Bits and Pieces Jottings and Some Ways of Thinking About Human Behavior. He explained that, "How we feel and how we will behave at any given moment is dependent upon how much or how little we have in our buckets."

In the 1970's, Merrill Lundgren, an insurance marketing executive, heard the terms bucket filling and bucket dipping during a company conference. For more than four decades, Merrill dedicated his life to teaching these concepts and other life skills to adults. Then in the 1990s he began to teach children the joy of bucket filling. Now in his nineties, Merrill continues to spread the message of bucket filling with the help of his son and daughter.

Carol McCloud, was an early childhood educator in the 1990s when she learned of the bucketfilling concept while attending an early childhood conference. As she followed the new research on mental, emotional, and social development that was being uncovered in the orphanages of Romania, she began to understand more clearly the intense need that all children share to have their buckets filled by caring adults.

In 2005, while talking to a teacher, she began to wonder why no one had yet taught this amazing concept to young children and was inspired to write her first book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. Within a month of publication, teachers from schools around the country were calling her to help them create "bucketfilling schools". Since then, thousands of schools around the world have used the bucketfilling ideas and concepts to become "bucketfilling schools" where kindness and respect are taught, practiced, and valued by all.

How does Bucket Filling fit in with other character development programs?
Bucket Filling has become one of the most popular and effective character development programs. It is taught in school districts, at conferences, and shared on blogs and educational websites around the world. Take a minute to Google® "bucket filling" and discover how much discussion there is on the subject. Bucket filling focuses on the positive, it's easily understood, and simple to implement. And, when another successful character-development program is already in place, Bucket Filling enhances that program. Every character trait (kindness, respect, responsibility, trust, fairness, and citizenship) becomes more tangible when the action is described as filling a bucket.

Why is the bucket concept helpful?
The bucket concept is simple and profound: Two-year-olds can understand it and yet it so profound that therapists who use it are able to help their clients solve the many challenges they hope to overcome. The concept of a full or empty bucket gives understanding to the motivation behind behavior, i.e. When our buckets are full, we are much more inclined to fill our buckets and the buckets of others and when our buckets are empty, we tend to find ourselves dipping.

How does Bucket Filling help?
Sadly, we live in bucket-dipping world where unkind words are often more common than compliments. Bucket Filling has created a new and simple language that everyone can understand and learn., i.e. You filled my bucket! Understanding the motivation behind behavior and realizing that we can choose to be bucket fillers are powerful tools for positive change.

Questions About Bucket Fillers, Inc.

Why should you book Bucket Fillers, Inc. for a presentation?
The best reason to book a Bucket Fillers, Inc. presentation is because you want to create a bucketfilling school, workplace, family, or community. We both win when your goals are consistent with our goals:

  1. To create more rewarding lives and a positive culture as you increase kindness, respect, and courtesy,
  2. To decrease mean-spiritedness and negativity and
  3. To learn how to keep your bucket filled by understanding and rising above bucket-dipping situations.

Our sessions, like each of our books, have a "call to action" because results come with doing, not hearing. We want you and your audience to leave with a personal commitment to do your best to be bucket fillers, not to dip, and to use your lid to protect your bucket and the buckets of other people. We'll teach you how, using reminders, recognition, and rewards, understanding that the doing is up to each individual.

Feel free to contact any school or other organization on our List of Bucketfilling Organizations for a referral or email Caryn Butzke for more information.

What do you recommend as the best use of our funds?
Because the Bucket Fillers, Inc. mission is to create bucketfilling schools, families, workplaces, and communities, we believe the best investment is Bucketfilling Training for Adults because the culture and language start at the top and trickle down to all.

We therefore recommend inclusive, district-wide staff development training at all levels, from primary through secondary education, to help insure that each child succeeds and graduates from one level to the next with good mental, emotional, and social health and a full bucket. When all the leaders and staff understand the importance of keeping their own buckets full and of filling the buckets of others, they practice it, teach it, and together create a bucketfilling environment of kindness, respect, and support for all.

Do you offer any discounts or know of any funding available for presentations?
In fairness to all schools and organizations, our Per Session and Per Diem rates are reasonably priced, equal for all, and listed under Training Opportunities.

Our Team has compiled various grants and other fundraising information, as listed under Grants and Fundraising, to help schools and other non-profit organizations seek financial assistance in order to become a Bucketfilling School/Organization through our unique and positive programs.

Our presentations also come with a great fundraising opportunity, in which you can earn 30% of your group book sales.

If you’d like to submit another question to Bucket Fillers, click here.