After last week’s horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon the entire world reacted with messages of compassion and love. Initially inspired by a random act of kindness done for me several weeks ago, I was already planning on sharing the idea of “paying it forward” with this post. It seems even timelier now. I think we all could use some good news, some inspiration, and something to make us smile. Fortunately, this is something we can deliver for ourselves.
The act of “paying it forward” is simple in concept. One person does a good deed for three others without asking for anything in return. Instead, the recipient of each good deed is instructed to pay it forward to three others. That’s really all there is to it! The details, such as what kind of good deed is done and when a person has to reciprocate are entirely up to the person doing the good deed. To give you an idea, I’ll share the story of the good deed that inspired this post.
At the beginning of April, I was in the home stretch of organizing a charity golf tournament for a long-time client. One Monday, I was determined to finish a long to-do list of picking up silent auction items, delivering guest welcome bags to the hotel, and purchasing last minute supplies. It was one of those days: hectic, non-stop, full of surprises, and did I say hectic?
After sending my eldest son off to school and seeing that my youngest was in good hands, I was running around putting out the small fires that inevitably arise when a Positive Force event is on the horizon. As I hurriedly rushed into the Shell station closest to my house to fill up my gas tank, I decided that if I didn’t eat something then, I probably wouldn’t eat that day. So I grabbed a hot dog, bag of chips, soda and bag of M&M’s and made my way to the counter. As the clerk rang me up, I reached into my purse for my wallet but the lady who had checked out in front of me pulled out a $10 bill and said, “It’s on me. I’d like to buy your lunch today.” I was shocked. “Really? You want to buy my lunch?” She insisted she did. She then told me that a stranger purchased her lunch the day before and she was just paying it forward. “Make sure you do the same for someone else,” she said. I thanked her profusely and told her that she had just made my crazy day a lot more tolerable. She smiled and said, “Enjoy your lunch!”
Obviously, this was about more than a simple hot dog (which, despite its origin, was delicious). A stranger changed the course of my day with a single act of kindness. The rest of that day continued to be just as crazy as it had begun but I had a new pep in my step and huge smile on my face thanks to her little reminder that there are always people around who care. Motivated by her generosity and a feeling of responsibility in continuing the good deed cycle, I paid it forward a few days later while at Sonic. I bought the people in the car behind me a couple of Cherry Limeade’s and an order of tater tots. I sure wish I could have seen the look on their face when they pulled up to the window and were told that their order had already been paid for. Life is short, people, and showing compassion (even on a small scale) is what it’s all about.
After doing a bit of research, I learned that there is actually a Pay It Forward Movement and a Pay It Forward Day which, coincidentally, is today! I encourage you to participate. The Pay It Forward Day website provides some inspiring ideas but really, you can’t go wrong with any nice deed you perform. In fact, just try buying someone a hot dog next time you’re filling up at the gas station! 😉
Do you have a great “pay it forward” experience of your own? Planning to participate in today’s Pay It Forward Day? Please share your stories here or on the Positive Force Facebook page. Despite the tragedy our country has recently faced, there truly are countless stories of positivity and kindness out there. Let’s inspire one another to create even more.