Who can forget the iconic film Pay it forward from 2000? (And if you haven’t seen it please put it on this weekend’s watch list.) The whole concept of this film was simply about responding to acts of kindness by paying it forward and bing kind to someone else. It’s a beautiful life philosophy and one that I personally believe gives every person in the world the opportunity to change the world for the better.
Who doesn’t want to change the world for the better? When you pay it forward, you’re usually changing someone else’s circumstances for the better. Sometimes, you’re saving another person’s life without even realizing it.
And not only that!
Paying it forward not only helps others it also helps you.
Paying it forward helps you grow, it is self affirming, it erases ego and reminds us we are all part of a co creative community and it can give you the opportunity to meet people who will enrich your life.
The best thing about the life affirming practice of paying forward is that it need not cost anything. Just kindness.
Paying it forward is simple.
When you have received an act of kindness you simply respond by doing something kind for someone else
Kindness is one of the best things in the world. It benefits the receiver, the giver, the observer and the planet. It helps us to grow as individuals, to help people and all in all makes the world a nicer place. Being kind doesn’t take a lot of energy but it creates a lot of energy. It’s one of the acts of humanity that can create ripples of goodness that flow far beyond the initial act.
In 1970 Scientist Robert Nemen Ph. D, , and his team were conducting an experiment into the relationship between diet and heart health. They gave nearly genetically identical rabbits the same high-fat diet. At the end of the study, the team expected all the measures of health to be the same for all the rabbits. However one group had far better results than the others 60% better. And the difference was the way in which these rabbits were cared for. For the healthier group the scientists actually picked them up, talked to them and in all essence showed them a little kindness. The team decided to investigate this phenomenon and set up a new experiment including kind behaviour into the care regime. And lo and behold this experiment proved that kindness has a beneficial impact on the rabbits health. Since then forty years of population research has shown that our social world is the major determinant of our health. And that kindness and positive connection plays an important factor to that.
Being kind has also been shown to reverse the effects of depression and lower stress
So even if you are not feeling great by being kind and doing something nice for someone else you can actually increase your own happiness and boost your own mood.
So what kind of things can you do to pay it forward? Here are a few of my favourites to inspire you.
Say a random “Thank you”
Think about a time someone was unexpectedly kind to you. There has been one. Maybe it was a friend by your side when you needed one, or someone coming out of their way to make you feel better when you were sick or down, Think about how the kindness made you feel. Now say thanks for that kindness via a text or a call. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was being appreciated is always nice to hear.
Open the door
Seriously have you ever taken the time to notice how nice it feels when someone opens a door for you? I don’t know why but it gives me a feeling of being special. A stranger noticing you is a rare thing in today’s nose to telephone environment. Opening a door, offering a seat are a little old fashioned but non the less are appreciated by tall and small aliketo make you feel better when you were sick or down, Think about how the kindness made you feel. Now say thanks for that kindness via a text or a call. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was being appreciated is always nice to hear.
Give a compliment
Give someone a compliment today. And I mean in person. Facebook is lovely but being told you did something well or you look nice is lovely. A lot of kindness is about making positive connections. And it has a butterfly effect that is unseen but powerful. You tell someone they did good. They feel happier. In turn they are nice to a co-worker. They feel happier. They go home with a boost of energy and are happy at home and everyone feels nicer. And look, it only took you 2 seconds to make that difference in the world. Powerful stuff.
Give a small business a review on social media
If you have a local business, an author, blogger, youtuber or an influencer that you love and brings value to your life you can tell the world about it by giving them a review. A little act like this goes a long way to making a difference to someone’s business, livelihood, self confidence and life. And again it takes a minute or two to give them that positive boost.
Say hello or smile at a someone who looks like they need it
Now as a person who has lived on the streets and been a charity fundraiser in the middle of town centers I know that these are two of the most soul destroying positions in life. Because other people don’t seem to care. A kind smile, a kind word or just someone saying hello is a boost of energy these people really need. I have had my day changed by a kind stranger and I have seen and experienced myself the happiness given by a random ice cream, cup of coffee or unexpected gift. It just makes lives better and it really is simple.
Give someone your space
Give someone your parking space or space in line. Of course we can’t always do this but on the days you can do it. Remember you are easing that person’s day and in turn they as a more relaxed person will do the same for someone else. Just simply allowing someone to take a parking space instead of you spreads a ripple of goodwill a long, long way.
Stand up for someone
Lend your voice. If someone is getting picked on in public imagine how that person feels. I hate bullies and I have stepped in many times when I have seen it in public. I have asked the person if they would like support and I lend my voice. Not only does it help that person. It highlights to other people walking by that maybe they should be a little more aware of helping each other out. I have also had strangers come up to me when they noticed a man was following me one evening in town and they walked with me until he disappeared. That sure as heck made me feel safer. Now of course don’t put yourself at risk. You can always call the police or security or even film the bullies or wrong doing you see and report it.
Ask if a stranger needs some help
If you see someone struggling with a heavy bag when you get on the train or a couple taking a selfie ask if you can help. Take that photo, lift that bag. It doesn’t make a difference to you but it makes a heck of a difference to them.
All of these ideas don’t cost more than time, awareness of others and a desire to make a difference to somebody’s day. And it makes the world of difference to them. And sends a positive ripple that affects so many people’s lives.
So how will you pay it forward today?
Let me know in the comments below