By Elena Hines
Managing Editor – Three Rivers Commercial News

Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 2:12 PM EST

THREE RIVERS — “Are you willing to spend 24 seconds out of the next three days of your life to find out how easy it is to have a better life?”

Numerous upper elementary students from Andrews Elementary raised their hands Wednesday as Stacey Lundgren, vice-president and lead presenter for Howell-based Bucketfillers for Life, offered them that opportunity.

It’s possible by having a warm and caring heart toward others, she said.

“Do something to fill someone’s bucket, then you’ll feel better,” she said, explaining that all people carry an invisible bucket containing their feelings. When their buckets are full, they feel great; when their buckets are empty, they feel empty. A bucketfiller is someone who says or does nice things for other people; a bucketdipper says or does things to cause other people to feel bad.
“If you really listen during this workshop and try these things, your bucket will get full (she snapped her fingers) that fast.”

Her prescription: fill someone’s bucket four times per day for three days.

“Most bucket-filling things take two or three seconds, like opening a door,” she said. Consequently, they could easily complete the aforementioned task in 24 seconds.

Students brainstormed for suggestions: helping someone pick up something they dropped, helping a parent do dishes, giving someone a compliment or offering congratulations on a job well done.

Lundgren asked the students how many felt their bucket was full most of the time; many raised their hands.

Then she asked how many felt their bucket was empty most of the time, but wanted to do something to change that. A few raised their hands.

She thanked them, pointing out that honesty was a bucketfilling choice.

“How do you feel when your bucket is empty?” she questioned. Emotions included “angry,” “depressed,” “sad” and “scared.” A couple of students shared about times others had hurt them.

“Are you ready for the greatest promise anyone has ever made to you?” she asked. “If you say you want to have a happy life, I promise you that you will.

“On one condition — if you choose to live your life as a bucketfiller, that is, with a warm and caring heart. When you fill other people’s buckets, you’re also filling your own.”

Sharing from her own life experiences, which included living in big houses, owning nice cars — the Corvette only made her happy for eight days — and going through a divorce, the mother of five told the youngsters, “things, money and other people can give us temporary happiness. But what can make us happy? Having a full bucket — choosing to live your life as a bucketfiller.”

It’s one’s own choice whether or not to be happy, she said, adding, “if you wait for other people to do it for you, you’ll be disappointed.”

It doesn’t mean they won’t face challenges — problems and tough times — those are a part of life. And feelings such as sadness about what happened aren’t wrong.

“But here’s the difference. Bucketfillers eventually stop thinking about the challenges and turn their attention to other people.”

The students then had a practical opportunity to turn their attention toward other people. Each had been given a sheet of paper numbered 1-10, and was directed to choose one person whom he or she loved and respected.

Each was to write down 10 reasons why he or she loved and respected that person — then go to that person later and read the reasons.

Upon completion of the written exercise, Lundgren gave any students who wanted to the opportunity to come to the front and read from their lists — and 14 did. She asked each one how he or she thought the recipient would respond when the list was read, guiding them to see the positive effect appreciation has on others.

One student, fourth-grader Xaiver Kunz, got some immediate feedback. He picked his teacher, Brea Bennett, and she gave him a hug.