In writing about happiness, I’ve come across a few metaphors now addressing the issue of happiness—that our happiness is like the weather, not always bound to be sunny, bright days. Or comparing our happiness to a pie—and that a slice of what goes into our pie of happiness is genetics and the rest comes from environmental and other factors. More metaphors to come later this week, but today’s metaphor is about buckets.
Carol McCloud is a Brighton, Mi.-based author of Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness: Three Rules for a Happier Life who also heads Bucket Fillers, Inc. a concept to teach students to be happier children. According to McCloud, the bucket is our self esteem or outlook on ourselves—and there are ways to fill that bucket of ours, whether you’re four years old or 40 years old.
McCloud’s outlook on children achieving happiness is consistent to what we’ve written about here in The Happiness Plan–that happiness comes about as we do things such as practice gratitude, connect with others and so forth. “Children of all ages want to feel useful and want to make a positive difference. Being useful and making a difference helps us be happy, too. It just has to be taught,” she says. “The bucket concept and bucket-filling lifestyle help children experience the benefits of being kind, caring and helpful. A full bucket— a healthy self-concept–is the result of being kind to others and to ourselves. Doing the right thing feels good.”
On her site, McCloud outlines a number of ways we can help our children boost their healthy self-concept, ultimately becoming happier people. These include:
* Make like Thanksgiving. Namely going around the family dinner table and discussing what kinds of things you’re grateful for. You can start each sentence with “I’m glad…”
* Encourage practicing acts of kindness. Even as simple as your daughter helping her toddler brother get his shoes on is a way to fill her bucket, because as McCloud points out, doing good things makes us feel good. (By the way, us parents have to remember to recognize these acts of kindness as well.)
* Fill your child’s buckets. Remind your child about how you love them unconditionally, even when they purposely threw a Barbie at their sister or screamed at you and slammed their door. This reminder is another proverbial drop in their bucket.
As I write this, I’m about two hours away from picking my own two children up from school and it has me thinking…what am I going to do today to help fill their buckets?