You have heard of the cup that overflowed. This is a story of a bucket that is like the cup, only larger. It is an invisible bucket. Everyone has one. It determines how we feel about ourselves, about others, and how we get along with people.
Have you ever experienced a series of very favorable 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. It is filled even more if he calls you by name, especially if it is the name you like to be called. If he compliments you on your dress or on a job well done, the level in your bucket goes up still higher.
There must be a million ways to raise the level in another's bucket. Writing a friendly letter, remembering something that is special to him, knowing the names of his children, expressing sympathy for his loss, giving him a hand when his work is heavy, taking time for conversation, or, perhaps more important, listing to him. When one's bucket is full of this emotional support, one can express warmth and friendliness to people.
But, remember, this is a theory about a bucket and a dipper. Other people have dippers and they can get their dippers in your bucket. This, too, can be done in a million ways.
Lets say I am at a dinner party and inadvertently upset a glass of thick, sticky chocolate milk that spills over the table cloth, on a lady's skirt, down onto the carpet. I am embarrassed. "Bright Eyes" across the table says, "You upset that glass of chocolate milk." I made a mistake, I know I did, and then he told me about it! He got his dipper in my bucket! Think of the times a person makes a mistake, feels terrible about it, only to have someone tell him about the known mistake ("Red pencil" mentality!)
Buckets are filled and buckets are emptied many times because people don't really think about what they are doing. When a person's bucket is emptied, he is very different than when it is full. You say to a person whose bucket is empty, "That is a pretty tie you have," and he may reply in a very irritated, defensive manner.
Although there is a limit to such an analogy, there are people who seem to have holes in their buckets. When a person has a hole in his bucket, he irritates lots of people by trying to get his dipper in their buckets. This is when he really needs somebody to pour it in his bucket because he keeps losing.
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. The level in our own bucket gets higher when we fill another's, and, on the other hand, when we dip into another's bucket we do not fill our own ... we lose a little.