Self-Awareness: Bridging Motivation to SHINE into Daily Habit


I have the pleasure of meeting, working with, and learning from many people in my life.  I believe that it is a choice to do so, as well as an opportunity to grow and seek manners in which I can positively impact the world around me.  I am an active writer and journal daily.  I make the choice to do this for many reasons, the main value being growth.  It moves me closer to being the very best person I can possibly be, building the most impactful and meaningful legacy each and every day.  At first, I didn’t realize the roots the process of journaling had in scientific principles.  Very quickly I realized and reaped the growth benefits of reflection by way of a journal.  I am able to identify patterns in my thoughts, behaviours, health, and the impact those were having on other’s behaviours.  It’s has become one of the most powerful 10 minutes of my day. 

As such, today I would like to focus on what I have learned and believe to be fundamental in a quest for health, success and the ability to thrive and truly SHINE.  For those who have read the book, “The Five Love Languages”, by Gary D. Chapman, you will appreciate my reference to your “bucket”.  Imagine for a moment a bucket that is theoretically used to contain your happiness, contentment, health, and overall wellbeing.  When this bucket is full or overflowing, you are “on top of the world”, your life is fantastic, you feel great in mind and body, and you feel as though nothing can get in your way or stop you.  When you’re bucket is empty or close to empty, this is when you are feeling down, negative, and generally unwell in mind and body.

This is where I would like to begin; with that analogy and frame of reference in mind.  Yes, in theory who wouldn’t want a full bucket?  It makes sense intuitively; however, is it really true?  As part of my ongoing development and research I have set out to answer this question. I’m not conducting a double-blind placebo controlled trial.  I’d even question whether that would be ethically acceptable…I personally wouldn’t accept purposely subjecting someone to, or emptying their bucket; that flies in the face of everything that I believe in and am passionate about.

None the less, for all the scientific folks reading, all my examples and theories are based on observational data.  Recently, I was witness to the perfect situation for us to examine further.  This particular situation involved a difficult conversation between two co-workers. 

The conversation/situation occurred and I learned both the story and the facts from each of the individuals’ perspectives a couple days following.  What I learned in review was that one of the individuals entered the situation with a bucket that was more than half full, the other less than half full.  Keep in mind that your bucket so to speak is “you”; there isn’t a professional bucket for you, nor a personal bucket for you.  As Dr. Suess said “Today you are you!  That is truer than true!  There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” 

In this particular situation, the most important aspects to assess and review are the outcomes from both individuals’ perspectives.  That was as follows:

FullBucketIndividual A:

  • Recognized that they were intentionally angry in their response to the other individual.
  • Made little attempt to gather facts around the situation nor the other involved person’s actions.
  • Demonstrated angry traits, passed blame to the other individual for “triggering” them. 
  • Brought into the current day situation, anger from the past. (I once knew a therapist who referred to this as “dirty fighting”)
  • Allowed the situation to fester in their thoughts for 5 days, occupying very valuable mind-space, potentially reducing productivity and increasing blind-spots for future opportunity, etc..

Individual B:

  • Recognized that the other individual was emotional, and responded emotionally at first but quickly recognized this was happening.  
  • Identified the fragile emotional state of the other person and corrected behaviour to allow the other person to release emotion.
  • Immediately sought understanding through facts in an attempt to neutralize what was identified as a situation that was not going to be rectified on the current course.
  • Demonstrated calmness and understanding in that the other person was “having a bad day” even though they could not fully perceive the situation. 
  • Sought to understand how their behaviours can be corrected to reduce the opportunity that they would trigger high intensity emotional situations in the future.
  • Moved on following the altercation; the situation was top of mind for hours (not days). The individual prepared a resolution and a plan of action moving forward to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of such situations in the future.

Based on this summary, which individual do you believe entered the situation with a bucket more than half full, and which with a bucket less than half full?

In this scenario, Individual B entered (and exited) the situation with a fuller bucket.  In addition to this case study, we know based on observing, reflecting and analyzing our own behaviours that when our buckets are more than half full; we handle life better.  With a full bucket, we enjoy wonderful moments in a fuller and more appreciative manner.  We also handle more difficult situations in a more objective, fact based and understanding manner.  Amanda Lindhout said it best, “hurt people, hurt people.”  I am suggesting that perhaps “people with emptier buckets attempt to empty other people’s buckets.” 

We intuitively say/think, “oh she’s having a bad day, that’s why she flew off the handle.”  Yes, I absolutely agree in that we are human and we do have moments in which our bucket drains more than others.  In fact, that’s an important healthy aspect of life as it allows us to truly feel and appreciate the opportunity to thrive and SHINE when you find it.  I believe the goal is to be mindful in the moment and to feel it as well as to respond and behave in a manner that is consistent with your core values.

This is ongoing work for us in our quest to thrive and SHINE.  I encourage you to self-reflect, have a daily conversation with your spouse, loved one, close friend, etc. about the status of their bucket that day and how you and they navigated the world as a result.  I would love to hear your thoughts and discoveries.

As the weeks evolve, we will discuss how to fill your bucket.  As they say, recognition is the first step.

I look forward to hearing your mindfulness insights and discoveries, so that we all can grow and truly SHINE!

Email Monica your insights.