September 10, 2014

Pay it Forward

There is a new craze on Facebook. This one is more positive than the giraffe riddle (hint: open the door or your eyes) and does not penalize you for showing concern to a friend (the "LIKE" trap game).

This social media craze finds people "Paying it Forward." It works like this. A Facebook friend will post that they want to bring more love and kindness into the world so the first five people who comment on their post with "I'm in" will receive a little gift from them sometime during the year.

Posts like that have been filling up my newsfeed for the past few days and it fills my heart to see the compassion, gentleness, and love that is spreading through Facebook. While I love to receive little gifts from people, I wonder if there is a way to use this trend and really make an impact in the world.

In the 2000 Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment film, "Pay it Forward", Haley's character decides to repay good deeds done to him by doing good deeds for three other people with the requirement that they in turn do the same. The film shows the incredible exponential life changes that could happen when you live to serve humanity rather than take from it.

Here are some ways we can make a real impact by Paying it Forward in the world:

  1. Pay it forward. Like the Haley Joel Osment in the movie, decide that you will make this behavior part of your daily life. For every favor done for you do something nice for three other people with no expectation of reciprocation. Include the caveat that those people must do the same for three other people. You never know where this kindness chain will lead.
  2. Decide to do one good deed a day. It could be buying a cup of coffee for another person, or paying the toll for the car behind you. You could split your lunch and give half your sandwich to a homeless person or help your neighbor carry their groceries inside. It does not matter how small the gesture. This will make the day of the other person and will benefit you as well. As you do these daily deeds, your brain will refocus on helping others and you will start to cultivate a mindset of gratitude and appreciation. This will help you see and take advantage of all the opportunities the world offers you.
  3. Donate to charity. What causes are you passionate about? Is it animal cruelty, domestic violence, or cancer? Find an organization and make a donation to them. Charitable and Not for profit organizations always need money to help them continue their work. Every year I make a donation to the ASPCA and local animal shelters in the name of my dog, Abbey. It makes me feel good to know that because of me one dog will not be euthanized, and that one more dog will have food and shelter. I also am a member of Public Television and donate to keep PBS alive. So donate. It will make you feel good and it may be tax deductible. 
  4. Volunteer. Yes money is important, but there is nothing more fulfilling then personal one  to  one interactions. I recently started to volunteer at a local high school working with the students to help improve their reading skills and comprehension. It takes one hour a week and the school is local to my house. The sense of  accomplishment and pride I feel by watching these students grow and improve is worth more than all the money in the world.
  5. Food drive. Start a food or can drive at your work or church. This is a great way to clear your pantry and create a strong sense of community. Donate the canned goods to your local homeless shelters or food banks.
I love the idea of helping others and this Pay it Forward craze gives us all an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life in a small way. I'm concentrating on taking a more global approach to influence people. Now when I see those "Pay it Forward" posts come along my timeline, I ask the person to keep their little gift and to please make a donation to the charity of their choice in my name.

I challenge you to adopt one of these ideas or create on of your own. How can you "Pay it Forward" and make a difference in this world?

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