The Dipper and the Bucket


The Mystery of the Dipper and the Bucket was written by Dr. Donald O. Clifton, a psychologist and founder of the Clifton Strength School. Now deceased, he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for service to his country in WW II.

He was dismayed at the focus of psychology on deficits and what was wrong with people. He wondered what would happen if we focused on the positive sides and what was right with people. He went on to do just that and his focus on strength research and helping people reach their full potential goes on yet today the Clifton Strength School. You can read more about this amazing man and his school by clicking the following link: Clifton Strength School.

If you have ever wondered how you can go from feeling good to feeling lousy in the matter of a few minutes, the following essay may help you understand both yourself and others a little better.

The Mystery of the Dipper and the Bucket 

You have heard of the cup that overflowed.  This is the story of a bucket that is like the cup only larger; it is an invisible bucket.  Everyone has one.  It is always with us.  It determines how we feel about ourselves, about others, and how we get along with people.  Have you ever experienced a series of very favorable things which made you want to be good to people for a week?  When this happens, your bucket is full to overflowing.

A bucket can be filled by a lot of things that happen.  When a person speaks to you, recognizing you as a human being, your bucket is filled a little – even more if he calls you by name, especially if it is the name you like to be called.  If he compliments you on your dress or on a job well done, the level in your bucket goes up still higher.  you make a mistake; a friend says, “I have had this happen to me.  Let me give you a hand.”  There must be a million ways to raise the level in another’s bucket; writing a friendly letter, remembering something that is special to him, knowing the names of his children, expressing sympathy for his loss, giving him a hand when his work is heavy, taking time for conversation or , perhaps more important, listening to him.

When one’s bucket is full of this emotional support, one can express warmth and friendliness to people.  but, remember, this is a theory about a bucket and a dipper.  Other people have dippers and they can get their dippers in your bucket.  This, too, can be done in a million ways.

Let’s say I am at a dinner and inadvertently upset a glass of thick, sticky chocolate milk that spills over the tablecloth, on a lady’s skirt, down onto the carpet.  I am embarrassed.  “Bright eyes” across the table says, “You upset that glass of chocolate milk.”  I made a mistake, I knew I did, and then he told me about it!  He got his dipper in my bucket!  Think of the times a person makes a mistake, feels terrible about it, only to have someone tell him about the mistake as though he did not know it happened.

Imagine that you go to a meeting alone, you are smiling, but wish you knew somebody.  You notice another person standing by himself.  As you are looking at him he catches your eye and inquires about the dining room.  you tell him you don’t know; you both start looking.  Soon the dining room is found and he suggest that you have lunch together.  You are pleased.  One of the well-known members of the organization comes by and says to your new acquaintance, “Hey, how are you?  Good to see you.  How about eating with us?”  Your newly-found and lost acquaintance tosses back, “Nice to see you.”  He got his dipper in your bucket!

Buckets are filled and buckets are emptied.  Emptied many times because people don’t really think about what they are doing.  When a person’s bucket is emptied, he is very different than when it is full.  You say to a person whose bucket is empty, “That is a pretty tie you have,”  and he may reply in an irritated, defensive way, “What’s the matter with my tie now?”

Although there is a limit to such an analogy, there are people who seem to have holes in their buckets.  When a person has a hole in their bucket, he irritates lots of people by trying to get his dipper in their buckets.  That is when he really needs somebody to pour it in his bucket because he keeps losing and losing when he needs it most.

The story of our lives is the interplay of the bucket and the dipper. Everyone has both.  The unyielding secret of the bucket and the dipper is that when you fill another’s bucket it does not take anything out of your own bucket.  The level in our own bucket gets higher when we fill another’s and, on the other hand, when we dip into another’s bucket we do not fill our own, we lose a little.

Sometimes we can protect ourselves and others by saying, “Hey, you have your dipper in my bucket!”  or, “We are getting our dippers in his bucket.”  Instead we can say, “Let’s fill his bucket” and, in doing this, experience the mystery of the dipper and the bucket.

Featured Recipe        Loaded Garlic Bread

This is a take off of the loaded potato.

I don’t know where I found this recipe. I did an internet search and several individual websites had basically the same recipe with no attribution.  In fact, some had the exact recipe I have. None of them were a magazine website either. So that did not help me find who the original creator is.

Whoever it is, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. This recipe is so delicious.

It is wonderful as just a side of bread with most any dish, but especially with a pasta dish.

But with a nice salad and/or bowl of soup I can also see it as a full meal. It is great for a midnight snack too.

You could also add minced green onions and some tomatoes to the bread making it even more delicious. Of course then you are getting into Hungarian Greasy Bread territory. And regular readers here know how I wax poetic about Hungarian Greasy Bread.

The cost of this bread is pretty amazing too. Coming in at only $0.46 per slice it makes restaurant or store bought garlic bread look like a ripoff!

This is what you need to make 12 pieces of bread:

3 slices of bacon

4 tablespoons of butter

3 cloves garlic

Crusty Italian orViennabread

6 slices mozzarella cheese*

*NOTE: I find it difficult to find mozzarella slices at the store these days. So I use shredded. Works the same.

Here is what you do:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Microwave the bacon on high for 4 minutes only until slightly crisp.

Let the bacon cool enough to handle. When cool cut into thin strips. I cut both length wise and cross wise to get different sizes and shapes of bacon bits.

Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Chop the garlic. I use a garlic press to get the garlic as small as possible.

Cook 1-2 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Remove from heat.

Cut each slice of cheese in half  if you use or find mozzarella slices. If using shredded skip this step.

Slice the bread. I got more than 12 slices, which is what you would expect from some one who flunked scissor-cutting in 5th grade. It is a miracle they even let me use a knife these days.

Place bread slices on the baking sheet. You may either have to bake these in batches or use two baking sheets if all 12 pieces do not fit on one sheet, as mine did not.

Spoon some of the garlic butter on top of the bread.

Then top each with a slice of the cheese or a sprinkle of the shredded and top with some of the bacon slices. I did mine backwards. It makes no difference.

Bake at 400 degrees till cheese melts and the bacon is crisp, for 12-14 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven.

Cool slightly and serve. 

My addition to this recipe; diced green onions and diced tomatoes on top of the bread.

Bon appétit!!!


3 slices of bacon                   $0.96

4 tbspns butter                     $0.52

3 cloves garlic                       $0.15

Crusty  bread                        $1.75

6 slices mozzarella                $2.16

Total cost = $5.54
Cost per slice = $0.46

Quote of the Day

All sorrows are less with bread.

Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author. (1547-1616)


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4 comments to The Dipper and the Bucket

  • That recipe looks fantastic, but the story of the bucket and the dipper really spoke to me; I’m almost always happy these days but a few days ago I had an unsavoury experience on Twitter with a business when an innocent question I asked became twisted out of sorts; the person at the other end responded with rudeness and then blocked me. I felt absolutely flabbergasted; I am always polite and gracious and have never had a reaction like that levelled at me at all. I blogged about my horror experience here:

    Thoughtless people (the dippers) aren’t just painful to deal with; I find that they’re also capable of altering your life in a negative way. I think being aware of this analogy will help deal with the stress and pain of being ‘dipped into’. Thank you!

    • Roberta

      Just read your blog post. I am sorry you had this happen. However, it has happened to a lot of us. I just chalk it up to: I can’t please everyone all the time.

      Plus, it says more about her/him, and it is not good.

      I am glad that in some small way this post is helping you deal and heal from this messy affair. Sounds to me like you did all you coud do and were very gracious. You did not receive the same in return. Seems to me no loss.

  • You’re absolutely right; in fact I’ve had people tell me that they’ve been put off from going to their shop because of that behaviour. So they’ve actually lost more customers than just me. My mum said the same thing; she said it says more about them than it does about me. I think I just need to get to that stage where I don’t mind people being rude at me; I just need thicker skin. I always react to things like this with: What did I do to deserve this? As you and other friends and family have pointed out, other people’s behaviour is not about me – it’s about them.

    Thanks for your wisdom; I’m so glad I met you. 🙂

    • Roberta

      Glad I could help in some small way.

      It always hurts. And I think we all – I know I still do – wonder if it is our fault or if we could have dome something different.

      I am so glad I have met you too. *hug* and Blessings.