Saturday 15 June 2013

Filling the bucket

Everybody has a bucket.

Some buckets are full of joy and happiness. Hobbies and friends. Love and laughter.

They're the lucky ones.

Other buckets are full of sorrow and despair. Bad habits and vicious circles. Clouds and regret.

All our buckets are different  but have one thing in common...they're OUR bucket. Whether we like it or not, we feel quite attached to our bucket.  We feel a bit weird and out of sorts if something goes missing from our bucket, we prefer to keep it full.

So, it's all very well taking the sad and lonely, the negative thinking or even the self medicating out of somebody's bucket...but what does that leave? Not a lot. Those things, as unpleasant and uncomfortable as they are, are what that bucket keeper knows. What they're used to. And without them? Their bucket is empty.

Help someone quit smoking without understanding the underlying cause and it's very likely they'll find a new outlet or vice...I've seen it happen.

Cut out all the junk food and drinking without realising what need it was fulfilling, or finding a healthy new source of pleasure or a satisfying new diet and lifestyle to replace it, and you'll end up feeling deprived and miserable. And reaching for the cake...I'm living proof that it happens. Again. And again

To put it another way: The absence of dis-ease, does not at all guarantee the presence of ease.

Which is, of course, why the very field of positive psychology began.  The whole of psychology, until the positive lot came along, is based on a 'disease' model, occupied with what's wrong with people. With easing hardship and misery. On weakness. On removing pain.

But if all somebody is used to feeling is pain, what are they supposed to feel when the pain is gone?  Is feeling empty supposed to be any better than feeling sad?

Martin Seligman and co. didn't think so. And neither do I.

I absolutely love that positive psychology focuses not on what's wrong with people, but on all that is right with us. Studies not weaknesses but strengths. Focuses not just on removing hardship, but on cultivating happiness to flourish in its place.

the photo that inspired this post
Or in short, positive psychology is all about re-filing that bucket with sunshine once all the muck has been
tipped out.

Identify your muck. Dig it up. Throw it away.

let the sunshine in
But don't stop there.  Don't leave your bucket empty. Once the clouds are gone, work out how to fill your bucket back up, but this time with sunshine. Once you know what that bucket needs, what you need to do, then fill it right up. Right up to the top. And keep on topping it up every chance you get.

Cos every little gap in that sunshine, is room for the muck to seep back in.

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