Are you familiar with the term ‘Paying it Forward’?
Have you ever got to the front of the queue to pay for your things and then realised you forgot your purse?
Have you ever been caught in a downpour when everyone else seems to be prepared with an Umbrella?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if in these small moments of stress there was someone to step forward and offer you a small token of kindness?
These events don’t happen often, but kindness can sometimes seem scarcer.
What if you saw someone struggling with their bags and children while trying to load their car?
Or you had some time left on your carpark ticket and saw someone searching for change at the machine?
Would you step forward and do a good deed by helping them out?
Shouldn’t we all step forward and help each other out?
Human beings collectively. The meaning of giving back and paying it forward.
The world can be an unfriendly, stressful place at times. Everyone much prefers kindness and peace. So why don’t we kick-start a chain reaction of kindness and generosity by agreeing to Pay It Forward?
Paying it Forward is the expression used for when someone does a good deed for you, and you repay it by paying it forward and doing a good deed for someone else. This then creates a chain of thoughtful gestures, generosity and small acts of kindness.
These small acts might seem small to you, but to the person on the receiving end could be massive, and just what they needed at that point.
It’s very simple – it’s just about being kind and doing something small for someone else
Who should start?
Why not be the person to start it? Be the person in the coffee shop that pays for the coffee of the person behind in the queue. When they reach the till and find out it’s paid already it could make their day!
If a friend has been having a tough time of late, why not order them a pizza to be delivered one night without them knowing?
These acts of kindness don’t need to be ‘showy’ or bragged about online. We’ve all seen the clips on social media where someone does a good deed but then posts it online for praise. This takes away from the genuine act itself.
Recent statistics show that cyber bullying is a serious problem now amongst teens and young adults. The type of damage this can cause to the victim and their families can be devastating and long lasting. This is now being taken far more seriously with cyber bullies being taken through court hearings and given fines or court orders, but where will it end? How can teens and young adults be taught that it isn’t okay to treat people like that. That it isn’t funny, and you can’t hide behind a screen.
It’s down to education. These cruel behaviours, and good behaviours can be learned. No one is born a bully. No one is born mean. We need to show in a practical way as well as in a classroom that being kind and humane is far more beneficial and rewarding and only leads to good.
Of course, I know we can’t fix the world by just being kind, but the small acts help. And, it’s easier to be nice than to be nasty. If our kids see us doing good things for others then hopefully they will follow our lead. Lead by example.
In 1784 Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to a friend – Benjamin Webb where he requested his friend repay him by ‘Paying It Forward’. The letter read:
‘I send you herewith a bill for ten louis d’ors. I do not pretend to give you such a sum. I only lend it to you.
When you shall return to your country, you can not fail of getting into some business, that will in time enable you to pay all your debts. In that case, when you meet with another honest man in similar distress, you must pay me by lending this sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the debt by a like operation, when he shall be able and shall meet with such another opportunity, I hope it may thus go through many hands before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress.
This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money. I am not rich enough to afford much in good works, and so am obliged to be cunning and make the most of little.’
This just shows that the idea of Paying it Forward is not a new fad, and it has been actively encouraged by one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, going back as far as the 1700’s.
In 1916 author Lily Hardy Hammond said, ‘You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward’.
Let’s jump on board with these guys and continue it on in our town!
Let’s create a chain of caring people that support each other and the broader community.
The way Pay It Forward works:
For each person you assist/encourage/surprise etc. You then encourage them to continue the process.
They then repay you for the kind gesture by doing something for others and so on.
Just think – if you ‘Pay It Forward’ to 3 people, and then those 3 people each ‘Pay It Forward’ to another 3 people and so on – this could make a lot of people happy!
You can let them know your motivation, or you can write a small card to explain your reasons. It’s easy as cheese.
A simple act can brighten someone’s mood or could be just what they need if they’re struggling with an issue.
Below is a list of some ideas, but your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues etc might benefit from something entirely different. You don’t have to spend any money, you can just look out for opportunities to help someone out. You don’t need to plan a big gesture but be willing to help out complete strangers and do so freely without expecting something back in return.
Ideas to get you started.
Donate some books. Leave a note hidden inside with an inspiring quote.
Leave an umbrella outside your house when it rains for someone who needs it.
Offer your services for free. If you’re handy around the house, offer to help someone out.
Visit the local care home for an hour and chat with the residents. Take them some biscuits.
Leave some flowers on a neighbour’s doorstep.
Pay someone an honest compliment.
Offer to take a family’s photo.
Pass your car parking ticket to someone else if you have excess time.
Put some coins in a vending machine ready for the next person.
Pay for the person behinds bacon butty.
Offer to babysit for an hour.
Take a thank you card to someone who works locally. Thank them for their customer service and the job they do.
Run an errand for someone who is busy.
Put your phone away when with others. Pay them undivided attention.
Bake cakes and hand them out to passers-by.
Plate up an extra dinner and take it to your elderly neighbour.
Check up on someone who seems lonely.
Bring breakfast in to work. Everyone will love it if you arrive with muffins!
Make it personal
It would be impossible to list everything we can do for others, as the people we know are all different, living different lives. So, what may be meaningful to one may not be as helpful to another. But it’s about paying attention to those around us and doing what we can to help rather than selfishly ignoring and concentrating on ourselves only.
We’re not all perfect and most of us are busy but there is always time to be kind.
There is a book and a movie written by Catherine Ryan called Pay It Forward which would be a nice way to introduce the idea to children. And there are also many foundations that use this method on a bigger scale for the work they do in communities.
There is also a ‘Pay It Forward’ Day each year in April as a way to encourage people to get involved, even if only for a day.
As well as the above there are also ready designed ‘Pay It Forward’ cards available online from various websites that can be downloaded for free and printed out. These are a great for those ‘surprise’ gestures like the coffee shop chain or flower deliveries. As they explain what is happening and encourage others to follow suit.
To start off a chain – today I am going into the local Greggs. When I pay for my coffee I am also going to pay for someone else’s. If you receive the gifted coffee then think of something nice you can do for someone else to carry it on.
Read more Blogs from Hannah Lindsay