Fill your ‘bucket’ with positive actions

Creating a healthy lifestyle is talked about everywhere you go these days. However, it is not all about diet and exercise. There should also be a focus on mental and emotional health. Researchers have found a correlation between caring for and helping others and an increase in health. An article from BMC Public Health finds that voluntarily helping others is associated with lower depression, increased well-being and a 22 percent reduction in the risk of dying.

Besides these positive benefits, caring for others simply builds connections among people. Humans are not only wired for face-to-face contact but also touch, smiles and eye contact. These types of interactions release a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone helps people bond with and care for others, as well as deal with stress. Lastly, helping and caring for others simply feels good because it brings joy and happiness.

So, how can we create a culture that focuses on positivity?

Carol McCloud, the author of a children’s book called, “Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids,” inspired thousands of teachers to start an initiative to teach children “bucket filling.” Now, even adults are using this idea in the workplace. Most people associate a bucket with a bucket list of things they want to do or accomplish in their life. The bucket that McCloud talks about symbolizes a person’s mental and emotional state of health where the optimal goal is to have a full bucket. Whenyouhaveafullbucket, you feel positive, friendly, less stressed, happy and have a sense of purpose. Someone attains a full bucket by not only focusing on their own health and happiness, but also other people’s around them.

Bucket filling actions include, but are not limited to: holding the door open for a stranger, looking up from your cellphone and saying hello to someone you pass on the sidewalk, complimenting a co-worker on their clothes or their ability to be strong-willed. The opposite of having a full bucket is having an empty one. Someone with an empty bucket feels depressed, stressed, unhappy and has negative thoughts. Actions that can come from someone with an empty bucket include gossip, judgment and disrespect. When your bucket is full, it is important to protect it. The “lid” of the bucket is your shield against anyone or anything that is trying to empty it. By doing this, you will build resilience, which will enable you to battle through life’s challenges.

A culture of happiness and better mental health can start with a simple gesture to others in your community. As the old saying goes, our days are happier when we give others a piece of our heart rather than a piece of our mind. How are you keeping your bucket full today?

Haleigh Kaiser is a student at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point majoring in Health Promotion & Wellness, and is a wellness intern for the Sheboygan Area School District.