Gifts Aren’t to Be Paid Back, They’re to Be Paid Forward

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We are all familiar with the phrase ‘Pay it Forward,’ whether because you read the book, watched the movie, or have just paid attention.

I encourage you to join millions of people around the world to celebrate International Pay it Forward Day – Friday, April 28th. This day is recognized by over 70 countries and over 50 state and city proclamations, it is a celebration of creating a huge ripple of kindness throughout the world through small, sometimes random, acts of kindness to strangers.

By paying it forward, one person and one seemingly small act can make a meaningful impact in the lives of many. The sum is greater than the parts. You can’t do everything, but you can do something.

Below is a list of ideas. Please use them throughout the year to spread a little joy. Most cost nothing, but could mean the world to someone.

  1. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  2. Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need.  Your old is someone else’s new.
  3. Donate blood.  One pint of blood can save up to three lives.  Locate your nearest blood drive.
  4. Share your umbrella with a stranger on a rainy day.
  5. Check up on someone who looks lonely.
  6. Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store.
  7. Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand.
  8. If you shop online, make your purchase through Give Back America or Amazon Smile.
  9. Drop off your old eye glasses at your local LensCrafters as a donation to the OneSight
  10. Redirect gifts.  Instead of having people give you birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a good cause.
  11. Offer your seat to someone when there aren’t any left. (You can’t always see pain.)
  12. Hug a friend. Just because.
  13. Send a nice email or handwritten card to someone you know, unexpectedly.
  14. Leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places.
  15. If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them.
  16. Donate cat and dog food to an animal shelter, as well as old towels or blankets.
  17. If there’s been an accident or a potentially hazardous situation presents itself on the road, report it to the local authorities.  Your phone call could save a life.
  18. When you’re getting fast food, buy an extra meal for a homeless person.
  19. Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
  20. Send a positive text message to five people right now.
  21. Leave quarters at the laundromat.
  22. Leave unused coupons next to the corresponding products in the grocery store.
  23. Leave a great server the biggest tip you can afford.
  24. Stand up for someone. Lend your voice.
  25. When someone wants to repay you for something, ask them to pay it forward.

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Feel free to share your stories and ideas to pay it forward.

Pay It Forward – I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress

 

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Most of us are familiar with ‘Pay it Forward,’ thanks in part to the 2000 movie of the same name. In the film, a young boy is assigned a school project to find an idea that can change the world. No small task there. The character develops the ‘pay it forward’ concept and sets into motion a chain reaction of good deeds that, while perhaps not changing the world, created a positive effect in the lives of many with the hope that it would continue indefinitely.

Perhaps lesser known is that this movement of sorts was conceptualized by one of our Nation’s Founding Fathers. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin gave a small amount of money to Benjamin Webb. Instead of repayment, Franklin asked that Webb, when he was able and the situation availed itself, find another‘…honest man in similar Distress. You must pay me by lending this Sum to Him.’ Franklin further beseeched Webb to ask that the next recipient carry on the tradition.

The concept has silently become nearly ubiquitous in American culture: Sci-Fi author Robert A. Heinlein makes note of it in Between Planets; it is also AA’s 12th Step; and it is mentioned repeatedly throughout popular culture. Regardless of its origins, the theory is both simple and powerful.

By paying it forward, one person and one seemingly small act can make a meaningful impact in the lives of many. The sum is greater than the parts. Money is certainly not necessary. Gestures, smiles, simple kindnesses are always (well, almost always) appreciated. Help the person who is struggling to get the groceries to their car, volunteer your time, stop and pick up that dog running loose in the street. These are small (sometimes) things we can do that will absolutely change the course of someone’s day. Maybe more than just their day.

Give it a try.

Have examples of paying it forward you would like to share?

Please do.