Fill More, Dip Less: The Secret to Daily Happiness

THE SECRET TO DAILY HAPPINESSHeaven got a feisty new angel this week.

My sweet grandmother (Noni) passed away Tuesday afternoon, and by some miracle, I wasn’t my usual 4,000 miles away. I was right there…in the room…with my mom, dad, sister, aunts, uncles, and Paw Paw, her sweetheart of over 60 years. What a crazy blessing and unforgettable privilege.

To be honest, I thought about not writing a post this week. But as I was spending time with family and reflecting on silver linings, this idea came to me. It’s more lifey than businessy, but hey. I am too. (Most days.)

Keep reading to find out an unusual but simple secret to daily happiness.

Hint: It has to do with buckets.

In this video, you’ll find:

  • A simple framework for daily happiness (via a Reading Rainbow-style book review)
  • The ultimate “priceless” birthday gift idea for the one who has everrrrything
  • One of the most liberating characteristics of any meaningful relationship
  • Quotes from Bambi AND Steel Magnolias…American classics
  • A do-this-TODAY challenge you won’t be able to resist

Click below to watch:

*I’ve gotta correct myself. Clarice actually said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” Such a good movie.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Want your own copy of Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

(It was my Reading Rainbow review, wasn’t it?)

Click here to check it out on Amazon.
 I created a special affiliate link! Any proceeds will go to buying our own copy that doesn’t have to stay at Nana + Pop’s house ;)

This Week’s Tweet Shop

Click one, click ’em all!

Pass this Video (to the Nearest Bucket)

If you like this video, please SHARE it. It’s an easy way to get your “homework” done quickly!

THEN, in the comments below, tell me:

Bonus round, in honor of my Non :)

  • What’s one of your favorite memories with your grandma?

This conversation’s going to be lovely. I can already feel it.

Can’t wait to hear about the fillin’ you’re up to!


P.S. Have you joined “The Inner Circle”? If you want to get updates on my first course (including how to write about yourself + your business without sounding like a robot), click here to sign up!



  1. Jenny

    Wow Nikki this is what everyone needs to hear! Filling buckets is the way I live my life: I started a non-profit, I am always paying it forward (last week I secretly bought a dessert for a sweet couple who was celebrating their 52nd anniversary), I admire and I give, give, give. THIS is my message to the world and to hear it from someone else as well gives me such immense joy (you just filled MY bucket).

    I’m also so sorry about your Noni. My Gram is 82 and stunning and vibrant. So vibrant in fact that we still both watch Grey’s Anatomy together. When I was living at home, we would watch it together and I would stick my feet under her bum to keep myself warm (and I’m the only one who is allowed). After my grandpa passed, all I wanted to do was fill her with love and make sure she was not alone. Now as I live 2 hours away, we still watch it and then call each other afterwards to discuss. It’s those little memories I will cherish forever when it’s her turn.

    Thanks again Nikki. Sending love & prayers.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love that, Jenny! I can imagine someone doing the same for my Noni + Paw Paw when they were out to eat :)

      Your Gram sounds fabulous! Noni had a razor-sharp wit all the way up to her last full day with us. (Hence the “feisty” ;))

      Thanks for taking time to share!

  2. Kim

    Nikki – I’m so sad to hear about your Noni’s passing. My daughter only met her Granny one time before she passed and we keep a picture of the two of them on her dresser.

    She loves to add her Granny to her prayers which means so much to me because she’s always felt she knew her because she sees her holding her in that picture.

    I’m so glad that you made this video. My daughter and I had a super funny moment surrounding this EXACT same book. And, I’ve had that post sitting in my drafts because I haven’t clicked publish on it yet because it’s such a personal story for me.

    She called my hubby a “bucket dipper” one morning and we had no idea what she was even talking about.

    Then she shared with us all about her reading this book and how she wanted to fill buckets.

    Now, every time someone says something less than kind in our household. Kathryn is always really quick to say, You’re a Bucket Dipper. And, when someone says something really thoughtful…she says – My bucket is full. And, she smiles a big smile.

    Maybe, after seeing you share your story, I’ll finally hit the publish button on mine. It’s an amazing book, it really is.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      So sweet, Kim! Love that Kathryn feels connected to her Granny :)

      Please come back and share the link after you click “publish.” I’d love to read your story!

  3. Silvia Bianco

    Since my kids are grown, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading this little book by Carol McCloud but I don’t think I’ll ever forgot about fillers and dippers. What a wonderful message to put out into the world both by the author and by you Nikki. Your noni obviously filled your bucket with lots of gems because you have a special way of getting to our hearts.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thank you, Silvia! It is such a sweet book. Can’t remember how I found it when I was doing my Christmas shopping last year, but I’m glad I did!

      I was thinking yesterday – still processing what I got to witness this week. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to adequately explain it. So many lessons there.

  4. Janelle Page


    Another great post! You can give us lifey posts anytime!

    Super glad you could be with your Non as she made the transition from this life to the next. Definitely a sacred privilege.

    Your sentiments reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from a spitfire of a woman, Camilla Kimball, who said, “Never suppress a generous thought.”

    I’ve tried to make that one of my mottos for life. I often do well with others, but where I’m really focusing now is with my children. Seems that family is often times the ones we overlook. So today their buckets are going to be overflowing. . . and of course, every day thereafter!

    Have a fab weekend!

    Janelle Page
    The Self-Improvement Trainer

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks for saying that, Janelle! The lifey stuff is why we do what we do anyway, right?

      That quote from Camilla Kimball is exactly it. “Never suppress a generous thought.”

      Happy bucketfilling!

  5. Dawn

    In my business, we’d say, “That’ll preach!” Thanks for reminding us all that bucket filling is a two-way street.

    Love, hugs and prayers to your mom, dad, and all.

  6. Tonia Winchester

    Aw. Aw. Aw. I love this. Thank you for sharing this beautiful message today. You got me a little misty.

    My Nana is my personal hero. She lives about 5 minutes away from me, and was the first in my family to go back to the earth, the garden, and a simple life for her health. I love hanging out with her because I feel like she hears me, gets me, and loves me. She is hilarious too.

    A recent favorite memory is we were on a friend’s urban farm tour, and her and I held hands for the entire walk. Tender. Sweet. Perfect.

    It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and I love this reminder to express (outloud!) my gratitude and love for the people and life around me.


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Beautiful, Tonia! My Noni’s mom was “Nana,” so my mom is too. And you just filled MY bucket telling me about your Thanksgiving plans :)

      Noni always kept us laughing. Super-sharp wit all the way to her final days! I’ll never forget when we went to see her (always our first stop on the way home from the airport), and she said to Jerm: “I forgot how handsome you were!”

      I must have inherited my good taste in men from her ;)

  7. Sophie

    What a fabulous message, Nikki! I love the tie in the book. I need to share this with others because your message is spot on, as always.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing but you delivered your news so beautifully that I can’t help but believe she’s in peace and watching over you all. You made a painful topic incredibly beautiful and joyous.

    Many hugs,

    Agent Provocateur of Joie de Vivre

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks so much, Sophie!

      It really was incredibly beautiful and joyous. Painful too, because of COURSE we miss her. But wow – what a way to go. On her terms, surrounded by love, lifted in faith. Will never forget it.

  8. Michelle

    What a positive message! If you want to be surrounded by bucket fillers, you gotta BE a bucket filler. :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      It really is *that* simple, Michelle! Invisible buckets.

      I’m so touched by how many of you have reached out in response to this post – both here and via email. My bucket is overflowing today :)

  9. Thea

    Loved your message. I fill buckets everyday of my life. In fact its what I build my coaching practice around. To me, its sharing the spirit of aloha with everyone I know(or don’t know). I was fortunate enough to receive that spirit many years ago and I pay it forward as often as I can.

    However I can let my tongue slip in a not so nice way and your message is a nice reminder to hold it when those thoughts come to me because you’re absolutely right. it doesn’t feel good to be un-kind.

    Peace, love, joy and compassion to you and your family as you move through the loss of your sweet Noni. A hui hau… until we meet again. <3

    Happy Aloha Friday NiK!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Absolutely. We ALL can slip (and dip!), Thea.

      That’s why I think of this more in terms of “fill more, dip less.”

      Kind of like…eat this, not that ;) It’s those slight, conscious decisions we make that make the biggest difference.

  10. Susan Seale

    Dear Nikki,
    I am so sorry to hear about your Noni. It’s such a blessing to be with our families at these times in life. My prayers and blessings are with your family.

    My Baba passed away at the beginning of March this year. She was 98 and we knew her time would come…in fact, she had been in a coma state twice in the last 15 years and had complete recovery both times. She was like a walking miracle for us!

    The last 8 years or so she lived in a care home. She used to bless every single person who came into her room with these words, “May you live to be a hundred!” You could see it was a bucket-filler comment just by the smiles on people’s faces as they’d leave her room.

    That book is one of my faves. Having worked with children I am in total agreement with your suggestion that the book is a great one for grownups too!

    Thanks, Nikki, for shining your ever-brilliant light on the world! Loving your videos!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      What a sweet story, Susan! Thank you so much for sharing about your Baba :)

      Noni was our walking miracle too. She had stage four breast cancer over 25 years ago, and we didn’t expect to have her beyond Christmas. Instead I got to spend almost 30 years with her.

      For years I’ve treated every visit with her as if it could be my last, and there’s a big lesson there. There’s so much freedom in knowing that the people you love KNOW how much you appreciate them!

  11. Ciara


    Great metaphor and wonderful message. I just love your calm sweet energy. I so look forward to hearing what you have to say each week. Thanks for sharing yourself with us!

    The Expat Coach

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks, Ciara. Comments like that make the Thursday night scramble TOTALLY worth the effort.

      P.S. I’ll have to show the “calm, sweet energy” assessment to my husband for laughs ;P

  12. Sonia

    Beautiful post Nikki. I look forward to your posts every week. Just wanted to say it : )


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Ahh, Sonia. Thanks for filling my bucket, lady ;)

      Seriously – these comments make me feel less crazy for the work that goes into creating these babies. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to “say it”!

  13. Weekend Cowgirl

    Fabulous website and blog, Nikki! Enjoying every minute of it. I am really sorry about your sweet Noni. May you have many wonderful memories of her to share with your family in coming years…

  14. Nikki Clark

    Hi Nikki, great post. We have been reading the same book this last couple of weeks! My kids are now obsessed with filling buckets and my youngest has us in stitches as anything she doesn’t like eg. eating tomatoes, changing her shoes…apparently empties her bucket! Have a great weekend, Nic :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That made me LOL, Nikki. So cute!

      Happy weekend to you too :)

  15. Marsha from

    Aw, I LOVED this!!

    Ever since I saw Sean Achor’s TED Talk (, I’ve started sending Thank You cards to people from my past. Often it’ll be someone I haven’t spoken to for 15 years (I ask them for their postal address through facebook), and I’m thanking them for something they’ve probably forgotten they did. I’ve actually started bulk-buying Thank You cards I like for the purpose!

    I would like to fill YOUR bucket, Nikki. You are a constant joy. Your blogs are always inspiring and uplifting, and yours is one of the few I read every week without fail. Thanks for being so sunny, sparky, sweet and sage.

    Finally, so sorry about your Noni, but SO glad for you that you could be there with her. I was very close to my Granny, and was also lucky enough to be there when she passed. If you’re interested, I told a story about it once, which you can listen to here:

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Oh, Marsha. Thank you, friend!

      I am absolutely going to listen to your story. I should probably record my thoughts soon before I start to forget. It still feels surreal.

      And nothing beats a handwritten thank you note! I’ll have to watch that TED talk too :)

  16. Cathy

    This is one of our favourite books; my 7-yr-old requests it once every few mons, and it’s a great reminder for all of us.

    Yesterday, being Thanksgiving (Can.), I was thinking about all the things I have for which I’m grateful. Thanks for reminding me to express what I discovered. Not just on e holidays, but daily, in the moment, as it happens.

    Funny (or not) this is something I tell my clients all the time. Guess I’ll be walking’ the talk a bit more.


  17. Teri

    There’s a lady who works at our local Walmart and she cleans the bathrooms. I don’t know how a person can work doing that day in and day out, especially as disgusting some people can be in a public bathroom. She always does a great job and makes the bathroom smell pretty and clean, so last week I said to her “I don’t know if anyone ever tells you this, but thank you so much for keeping this bathroom clean, it’s so nice to be able to use a clean public restroom”.. Her reply was yes, people tell her that all the time and thanked me. It’s good to know there are still nice bucket fillers out there :)

  18. April D. Thompson

    I have many, but I actually wrote about 1 a few years ago. I was traveling for business and sat next this sweet older gentlemen also traveling for business. We had the best conversation talking about our careers (we were both in sales heading to client meetings), life, family, etc. About halfway through he made me a paper rose out of his napkin and presented it to me. It was just a piece of paper but I greatly appreciated the gesture. I refused to let the flight attendant discard it with the rest of the trash. I held on to that rose for the rest of my flight and throughout the airport terminal all the way to my rental car. I finally passed it on the Hertz agent who looked like his dog had just died. It felt good to see him turn his scowl into a smile almost instantly and carefully place it in the coffee mug sitting on his desk. :-)

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