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What if Paying it Forward IS What it's All About?

Remember the 2000 movie Pay it Forward based upon Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book starring Haley Joel Osment? The basic premise is that a small act of kindness towards a stranger when asked that it be reciprocated to another stranger grows, and grows until there is a movement. Example: you spend the extra money in your pocket to buy a cup of coffee for another person down on their luck, and ask them to pay it forward. They in turn do something kind for another person. The act could be something simple like helping to carry a heavy bag of groceries. These actions grow, and grow until we are all part of paying it forward.

I remember some years ago I was in line to get a cup of tea, and a man dressed in a suit in front of me was short a little cash. Without thinking I gave him $1, and a smile. The man smiled back warmly as he had been embarrassed by the situation, and was struggling to find his debit card. When he paid his check he looked back once again to thank me, and without giving it a thought I said “ My pleasure. If you would, please pay it forward.” The man stopped, and stared at me in surprise. Then said “Yes! Pay it forward - like the movie!” We both had a laugh, as did the person behind me who had overheard the entire conversation.

As I walked away I was filled with gratitude, and a sense of excitement about the possibility. Not because I had given this man $1, but because in that moment we had possibly lit the spark for what could be a movement of kindness, and generosity within the line of people waiting for their coffee drink. How empowering!

You may be thinking “what’s the big deal?” But, I challenge you to think about cause, and effect. If only 1 of the 3 of us who engaged in the conversation that day DID pay it forward, then someone outside of the conversation benefited. If that person paid it forward, then another group of people completely unrelated to us became part of the wave. So on, and so on.

Paying it forward is not about money. It is about kindness, generosity, and giving without expectation of anything in return for one’s personal gain. The act may be as simple as smiling at someone, holding a door open, helping an elder with a heavy bag, offering a cup of coffee/food to someone in need, letting a parent with their kids cut in front of you at the grocery store, etc. This is about empowering all of us to be all we can be in the most simplest of terms.

When we pay it forward, and ask others to do the same we participate in creating a wave which when fueled with action becomes a movement. A movement of kindness, generosity, and self empowerment with one simple action.

So, I challenge you to be a creator. This week look for (3) opportunities to assist another in a meaningful way, and ask them to pay it forward. Please come back, and share your story! Let's see what we can all do in just one week!

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