Bad things happen. They happen to everyone. 

Some people seem to crumble under the weight of “bad things” in their lives while others manage to let things go quickly and easily and don’t appear to be affected by the very same “bad things”.

If you’re in the 2nd category, you probably don’t even know why you are this way.

If you’re in the 1st category, you wish you knew their secret.

As a category 2 person myself, I think I’ve figured it out and I want everyone to learn this secret! I don’t want it to be a secret, I want it to be a freely given gift to everyone I meet!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about joy. But did you know that there is something that goes hand in hand with joy? It’s called capacity

My techy friends probably picture the hard drive of their computers and think they know what capacity is.

My electrician friends probably see the wiring of a house and think they know what capacity is.

Anyone who’s ever heard my Dad Ed Khouri teach probably sees the mountain climbing graphic he made to describe capacity, joy and trauma.

But I think I’ve got a different picture that might help it really click for everyone.

Capacity is like a bucket. 

Some people have a big bucket, others have a small bucket, and even others might just have a tiny lid.

When your bucket gets full and spills over- things get messy! 

Sometimes this results in you losing your temper, sometimes it looks like a mental breakdown, sometimes it results in a night of sobbing uncontrollably… and most of the time it leads us to crave stuff that will hurt us in the long run. (Alcohol, drugs, junk food, unhealthy relationships, etc).

Picture your bucket… whatever size your bucket is, that is a representation of how many “bad things” you can handle without spilling over. Bad things might be actual traumatic events in your life… things like abuse, abandonment, death of a loved one, divorce, fire, storms, war etc. 

(the world of psychology calls these things Trauma B)

But bad things can also be things like traffic jams, fights with your spouse, deadlines piling up, screaming kids, lack of nutrition, etc. 

(these are called Trauma A- the absence of good and necessary things. Did you realize that normal everyday stressors are the absence of peace that you need to function properly?!!)

But did you know that you that you actually have 2 buckets?

JOY is also like a bucket.

The 2nd bucket is your JOY bucket and it holds all the good things for you.

Good things like those times when someone was glad to be with you! Good times like walks in the park, watching sunsets, catching fireflies, laying on the beach listening to the waves, petting your dog, laughing together with friends.

The really interesting thing is our buckets always match in size. 

 We actually WANT our joy bucket to overflow!


Because when the joy bucket gets full, it automatically trades up for a bigger size. This means, your capacity bucket gets bigger too! 

The bad news is, without much joy in our lives, our joy bucket shrinks, and so does our capacity bucket.

Having a bigger joy bucket and a bigger capacity bucket means we can handle all the stuff life throws at us. Our capacity bucket can handle just about anything that comes our way. 

photo borrowed from

Some of you might be thinking, “But I don’t want a big capacity bucket because that might mean more bad things will happen.”

But that’s not true.

You see, having a big capacity bucket doesn’t mean we will necessarily fill that bucket with bad things. It just means when a bad thing comes along, there’s room for it to rest at the bottom. 

(We don’t really carry them around like the boy in the picture above, so they don’t need to be balanced.)

Remember, it’s the JOY BUCKET that decides how big of a bucket we need. 

So keep filling that joy bucket! Trade up for a bigger set of buckets!  Make filling your joy bucket a priority!

Here’s a few things you can do to get started:
  • Smile at someone; ask them how they are doing. Be more like “Elf”! “I’m Buddy the Elf, what’s your name? What’s your favorite color?!”
  • Go for a walk at sunset with someone. (a loved one, a neighbor, a sibling anyone!)
  • Fly a kite!
  • Start an Appreciation Journal (have you heard about the power of gratitude lately?!)
  • Make a CD of your favorite songs and give it to someone!
  • Put down your cell phone and look into the eyes of the person across from you!
  • Sing really loud to a favorite song with someone in the car with the windows down
  • Laugh! Out loud! Just start laughing… it becomes contagious! You don’t even need a reason sometimes. 
  • Whenever you’re with a loved one, pause and remember that the most important thing is to be glad to be together. Whether you’re working, cleaning, watching TV, playing cards or eating a meal… make being glad to be together the priority!

Here's to filling our joy buckets!!!

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