Some days, even if you do all of the things to fill your standard “good day” quota, and no major (or minor) crisis occured, and everything went well at work and home, you just feel kinda down … Just a little “blah” or “arg” or “humph!”
You can’t figure out what it is, but you know something is just off.
Now, a few things could be going on here. You may not have gotten a good night’s sleep. Perhaps you ate something that didn’t agree with you. It might be that your hormones are going bananas. Or maybe the stars just are not aligned today.
Feeling that everything is awesome 100% is a rare condition for us humans. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I find, though, that 90% of the time if I’m down it’s because one of three factors is significantly underserved in my life.
And these three factors are what writer, wellness influencer and constant source of inspiration Jonathan Fields calls “the three buckets.”
Your connection bucket is all about cultivating deep and meaningful relationships. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert … or somewhere in between. Having others in your life you can connect with on an intimate level is so important.
And having lots of friends on Facebook or partying all the time does not equate to real connectivity. You can still be disconnected if you’re wearing a mask, inebriated, or just not being your true self.
Wanna know if you’re really, authentically ‘connected’ to someone? Here’s a simple litmus test: Can you call this person for a 30-minute chat about something important to you anytime of the day without them thinking it’s weird? Could you have this conversation without needing to lie or withhold information? And have you actually made this call in the last 30 days?
Count how many people in your life meet these criteria, and if it’s fewer than a handful, then chances are that your connection bucket is lacking….and it’s time to go to water hole!
So, for extroverts making new connections might be easy. But while extroverts can usually work a room at a party, sometimes they’re so busy meeting each and every face, that they forget to have those deep and meaningful conversations. And that’s where the “connection” gold lies … not just casual conversations, but really feeling understood and connected to another person.
If you’re an introvert, this little bucket might scare the bejesus out of you. It’s ok. You can do this. You don’t need to fake being “outgoing” to meet new people. Just go out and find your people. Think about the things you love to do, and go do them. Join groups that share your values. You’re bound to find others that share your low-key style of socializing.
Or better yet, reach out to the people you already know and like, make some plans. Ask them to grab coffee, go for a run … meet up for some low-key activities that will strengthen your existing relationship.
Chances are you’ll pretty quickly realize how a just a couple strong connections in your life will lift your spirits and keep your “good” days coming more often than not.
Your Vitality Bucket is about optimizing your state of mind and body. This is my favorite bucket because there are SO many simple solutions to improve vitality. So many I’m going to list a whole bunch right here:
- Meditate regularly
- Take a deep breath … or a few deep breaths
- Get good quality sleep
- Eat healthy … here’s more on that
- Take a walk in nature
- Spend more time with the hobbies and activities you love
- Do anything that makes you feel authentically you and alive!
One of my favorite ways to fill the vitality bucket is by getting out there and trying or learning something new.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to try out crocheting. So, you do a little research and find a new group who also wants to learn crocheting. You make friends. You learn all the tricks and tips of crocheting, and suddenly realize the skill required in making a simple pair of gloves. Now you’re looking at your sweater with so much more appreciation. You try to figure out how to hold the sticks … you fail … eventually you figure it out and get a little better. You’re exercising your brain, testing assumptions and all this new brain power is bringing you to life!
Your contribution bucket is about giving to the world in a way that is deeply aligned with who you are and what matters most to you.
So if you’re feeling down, and you feel that all your other buckets are pretty full, ask yourself this … if i woke up tomorrow and the world was an absolutely perfect place to live, what would be different?
Write down your list of answers. Would we be taking better care of our planet? Would there be no more guns? Would people have time to just relax and do nothing?
Then think about which of these beautiful goals you could contribute to in a meaningful way on an ongoing basis and take action. Set up your compost. Write a letter to your congressperson about gun control. Call your old friend to catch up ‘just because’ and reminder her how special she is to you.
Contribute to the well-being of others and you shall receive :).
And you don’t have to go big to give back meaningfully. Remember, charity starts at home. How can you make the lives of your family and friends better? Just shifting the focus from your sadness to their happiness is a great big drop in your contribution bucket.
But remember, we have to take care of ourselves before we take care of others. So make sure self-care is a priority too.
So the next time you’re feeling blue and you’re not sure why … check your buckets! Write them down and rate how full they are on a scale of 1-10. See where you’re coming up a little short.
Then, to feel better, look backward and forward.
First, take a minute to reflect on some time in your life when this bucket was full. Bring those memories into your mind as vividly as possible. How did they make you feel physically? Feel that sensation in your body. Get in touch with the emotions associated with those memories. Just remembering the experience goes a long way to improving your mental health in this moment.
Because anything you have experienced in the past is still a part of you. And sometimes you just need to be reminded that you can feel that way again.
Then, move forward. Think about what you can do to fill those bucket in the next hour, the next day, and the next week. And revel in the amazing the sense of control and happiness that comes from taking 100% responsibility for your life and experience.
“But Caitlin,” you might be thinking. “The more I read about these three buckets…the more I realize mine have never been full. And I have nooooo idea what my happiest life would even look like!”
Don’t worry. I can lead you to all those answers with my amazing resource: Your Personal Happiness Formula! This workbook will help you not only define happiness on your own terms but also learn what concrete, practical life changes you can make to find authentic, long-term happiness. Learn more by clicking here.