When I saw the film "Paying it Forward" long ago, it struck a deep chord. Have you seen this film? It's about a boy who, as part of a class assignment on how to change the world for the better, creates a plan based on good deeds. He calls his plan "paying it forward." The boy first helps someone, and tells the person not to pay him back directly. Instead, he asks that person to pay the help forward by doing favors for three others. Throughout the film we see this one act blossom to three, then nine, then build and gain momentum - creating a synergistic affect around the world. It was 16 years ago and became a big part of how I live my life:
It was a great reminder of the power of small as well as big acts of kindness.
It was a great reminder that we can all be part of making the world a better place.
It was a great reminder that help doesn't have to be reciprocal, but can be a flow of I help you, and another helps me.
So how can we incorporate this simple idea into our lives? First, think of the people this week who helped you in any way. It could be a little help, like picking up your dropped pencil, or could be a bigger help, like looking after your pet while you were away. It could be a grocery bagger who noticed one of the bananas you picked out had a bruise on it and ran to get you a new one, or someone who gave you a smile when you were feeling frustrated.
Notice that the world is full of thoughtful, kind people,
and that you are worth being given to.
Here you are, now, worthy of all these great acts of kindness, full of gratitude, and with the capacity to give back! So how, and who, will you give to? You can pay all this forward through writing checks to for-purpose organizations you believe in, of course. You can also do some acts of kindness yourself that don't cost a thing.
Here are five ideas for paying it forward that don't cost a thing:
1. Smile at people. When I go through the grocery line I make sure to give the grocery clerk and bagger warm smiles. It's amazing to see them perk up, and know that the next people going through the line will get that smile turned on them. Smiles are so contagious!
2. Listen to people. Is there a lonely neighbor on your street who could use a few minutes to feel heard? Or perhaps a bored looking teenager sitting next to you watching her sibling play soccer you could engage in conversation.
3. Send love to people. Is there someone you know that could use some extra love? However you feel comfortable, you could send them love, pray for them, or send them a note of encouragement.
4. Notice people. We've all felt invisible or unworthy at one point in our lives. If you observe someone who could use some kindness and acknowledgement that they matter, give them eye contact, a smile, a simple hello, hold the door for them, let them go in front of you in line, or offer an authentic compliment.
5. Laugh with people. There is something so connecting and uplifting about sharing a warm, hearty laugh with someone. Are you a good storyteller or joke teller? Or can you help someone see the humor in a situation? (I used to teach public speaking to college students, so I use the caveat "appropriate humor" because of course this is meant to help make the world a better place, not put anyone down or laugh at anyone's expense!).
The movie was about paying it forward to people, but of course, we can pay kindness forward to the earth, animals, God, etc. Have fun with this! And realize that you too are worthy to receive and notice all the kindness that is being paid forward to you!
Blessings on your journey.
And if you know of anyone who might like this fun reminder, click the share button below!