During the holiday season, someone will get the urge to perform a random act of kindness for a total stranger. We’ve all heard of paying for the coffee order for the car behind you in the drive-thru and probably have done ourselves. It’s a great feeling and leaves everyone involved with a smile and positive thoughts for the day. So how can we generate more of this every day?
First, let’s look at what paying it forward really means. The dictionary describes it as “the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of the original benefactor.” It’s very closely associated with philanthropy, which is defined as, “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.” What do you do when you’d like to pay it forward and short on ideas?
Some Pay it Forward possibilities below:
Donate your time.
With life-consuming the majority of our time, how we choose to spend that time is critical, so let’s make it count. There are a number of different volunteer opportunities in every community, and it’s as easy as picking up the phone to see how you can help. I am a regular volunteer at the rescue mission during dinner service, and I am a volunteer dog walker for the local animal shelter as well. You might be thinking serving dinner to the homeless is an obvious choice and wondering how dog walking is paying it forward. Both of my dogs were rescues, and since they’ve passed, I look at it as a way to bring joy and happiness to another shelter pup until they find their forever home. How about offering to babysit for a single parent who could use a break?
Words of thanks.
A friend of mine was very passionate about supporting Veterans and would make homemade cards to thank them for their dedication and service. Shirley kept the cards in her car and whenever she was out and about, if she spotted a car with Veterans license plates in the parking lot, would leave a card on their windshield. I know a few of her friends kept up this practice after she passed.
Another way to pay it forward every day would be to give 10 compliments a day. It could be to total strangers, co-workers, or family members you may be on the “outs” with. There is so much criticism and negativity in the world today that any kind word will go a long way.
During a Halloween celebration, I ran into a man who was dressed in a big blue bunny costume with the words, “FREE HUGS” written across his chest. As one to never pass up an opportunity for a good hug, I took him up on it. It was one of those nice bear hugs that make you feel warm, safe and protected. Studies have also shown that hugs can increase your serotonin levels, boost your mood and self-esteem. We could all use some of that, so hug away!!
Pay it forward party.
How about getting a group of friends together and pick a project that will help others? Some of the themed parties I’ve heard of include: collecting purses and filling them with toiletries to donate to the local women’s shelter, bringing in magazines to use to create photo journals with positive and uplifting messages for patients to read as they receive their chemotherapy or radiation treatments, collect greeting cards and bring them to a local nursing home to use for arts & crafts projects, or have an “adopt-a-pet” theme where people can bring in blankets, sheets, sweaters that can be used to keep the shelter dogs warm this winter.
Hopefully, these have sparked something in you. Let your creativity flow. If you can dream it, you can do it, and the ripple effect will extend out far beyond your local community.