A few years ago a film came out about a boy who sets out to do a significant act of kindness toward three people. When the people he helps try to pay back the favor, he refuses their offers, and asks only that they “pay it forward.” In the movie by the same name, the boy’s efforts get off to a rocky start, but then set in motion a groundswell of altruism that comes to be called “the movement.”
We like to think that it could be possible that the beneficiary of the favor did, in fact, pass it on, and that the favor rippled through the world in an unbroken chain, bringing forth good will endlessly. It’s a beautiful thought, but unrealistic. However, people do favors every day and ask nothing in return. The giver is uplifted. The recipient is encouraged to believe that there are good people in the world. For that moment, the world is a brighter place for at least those two people. The giver may feel the act worth repeating and so do it again some time. The recipient, encouraged by the charity, may extend his or her generosity to another.
- Just for today, try one of these: circling the parking lot, competing for a good space, wave someone in to the more desirable spot, and take one that is further from the store. The walk will do you good.
- Don’t need those scratch sheets, coupons, giveaways at the department store? Give them to the customer next to you in line.
- Going through the token machine in the subway? Offer a token to someone behind you who would appreciate it–a student, an elderly person, a young mother with babies.
- Try this one that was reported in the media recently. When purchasing your fast food and paying for it at the drive thru, give the cashier an extra five or six bucks and tell them you’re “paying it forward” for the guy in the car behind you, and that you suggest that he/she pass it on.
- On December 26, 2013 at a Starbucks in Connecticut, a customer “paid it forward” for a coffee for the customer behind him and the chain went unbroken for 780 coffees. On Aug. 22, 2014 a Starbucks in Florida had a chain of 458 coffees paid forward for 10 hours. Start your own chain of coffees paid forward.
- If you haven’t found an opportunity to pay it forward, go to the website of the pay it forward foundation and do some reading.
Stay with this assignment a couple of days until you complete it. Record what you did.
Pay It Forward (2000). Director: Mimi Leder. Written by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Screen play by Leslie Dixon.. Starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment.