Various authors over the years have prescribed mantras for a happy, successful and fulfilling life like 5 easy steps, 3 simple techniques, 101 ways, or an edition for dummies. The list goes on. How Full is Your Bucket? by Rath and Clifton my latest read could have easily featured on that list with the five strategies suggested at the end. The crux of the book emerges quickly pointing out “how positive psychology in everyday interactions can dramatically change our lives” (Publishers Weekly). By the practice of the five strategies: 1. Prevent Bucket Dipping, 2. Shining a light on what is right, 3. Making best friends, 4. Giving unexpectedly, and 5. Reversing the golden rule, Clifton and Rath suggest how individuals might nurture positivity that is conducive to growth.
I was skeptical at first about the five strategies for it seemed to be like any other quick-fix superficial solution offered to life’s complicated problems and issues. With emphasis on self – esteem and health, it also seemed to imply that the basis of better and robust human relationships rested on a ‘personality ethic’ rather than a ‘character ethic’ (Covey 1990).
However, I moved beyond my initial skepticism and delved deeper. I related the reading to the basic tenet of my Christian faith: ‘Love God and Love your Neighbor’. The five strategies correlates very well to ‘loving my neighbor’ in practical and tangible ways. The activities suggested under each strategy were simple and again I was mistaken when I thought that they would be easy to follow. This past week as I intentionally practiced just the first one I realized that while I may have grasped the concept of ‘loving my neighbor’, I am still challenged by the implementation of the same at a personal level. And hence I do need books like these with simplified, precise and explicit reminders.
In this fast paced, almost virtual world that I live in, taking these small, measurable and simple steps towards meaningful human interaction builds true and lasting relationships. Moreover, practicing these five strategies as a Christian leader also steers me away from complacency and or indifference in my relationships. Finally, my take away from practicing the first strategy this week was a reminder to be a servant leader wherever I am giving, investing, sacrificing, and sharing. As I practiced filling another’s bucked and not dipping, I prayed St. Francis’ prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen