What Are You Doing To Pay It Forward?

Paying it forward...random acts of kindness...helping others...the concept seems lost today. These ideas have been replaced by one, very powerful, philosophy:

Looking out for #1.

This small, seemingly innocuous phrase has done more damage than any that has gone before it. By seeping quietly into our everyday lives, it has turned our perspective on where we fit in to the Big Picture completely upside down, and manifests itself in so many subtle ways that, most times, we don’t even notice it.

How, you ask? Well, let’s see if I can think of a few examples here…

  • Driving by a homeless person holding their sign at the freeway off-ramp because you know that they are either just looking for drug money, or that “They really DO make more money by begging than most people make working actual jobs – I saw it on 60 Minutes”.

  • With $200 of groceries in your cart, when asked if you want to donate $1 to a good cause, you don’t want to spend the extra dollar because it isn’t in your budget.

  • Thinking of Charity Giving as a luxury item, only to be paid if you have extra $$$ left over at the end of the month (which never happens!).

  • Finding out after the fact that your neighbor was very ill and is in recovery, and the opportunity to help them has passed.

  • Sitting in church, the pastor mentions a family who has suffered a loss and needs community support, and you don’t help because someone else, surely, is taking care of it.

  • Walking into a movie theater/grocery store/department store, you just let the door shut behind you rather then look to see if someone is behind you for whom you could hold it open.

  • A mother with a fussy child is in the grocery store, and the child drops something on the ground. You look with distain at the mother for not controlling her child instead of remembering what your children were like at that age and picking up the item, smiling at the mother, and saying hello.

  • Volunteering at a non-profit, not because it represents a great cause, but mostly because the cause s politically correct and you know you will meet socially influential people there, and it would improve your social status.

Do you see where I am going with this? Many times, without even realizing it, all of us are guilty of this behavior. We can justify it all we want, but it still comes down to this: we are looking out for #1.

So how do we fix this? How do we take on the insurmountable job of changing the thought process and behavior of billions and billions of people?

Believe it or not, the solution is simple:

Start with #1.

What if each of us started doing things for others with absolutely no expectations of benefit for ourselves? How many people could we touch if we just stopped looking for a return on our investment and started looking for people who just need help?

I know – crazy, right?

So where to find these people you ask? your front door, stand outside and take a look around. The answer is: everybody. We all need kindness. We all need comfort. We all need friendship. We all need to see a sliver of compassion in this very cynical world.

So what can you do about it? Get up and just do it!

Here’s a few of suggestions:

  • Help your neighbor carry in their groceries.

  • When paying for your Happy Meal in the drive-through, pay for the order of the car behind you.

  • Smile at someone on the street as you walk by.

  • Talk to the person behind you in the grocery store.

  • Compliment someone on their outfit.

  • Offer to take a meal to a family that is having a tough time for whatever reason.

  • Bring coffee for someone in your office who looks like they are having a bad day & leave it on their desk.

  • Pay for the next 5 cars behind you at the toll booth.

Before you embark on your mission to commit Random Acts of Kindness, take a few minutes to examine your motives. Are you looking for recognition? Are you looking for acknowledgement? Are you looking for gratefulness? Or are you ready to just give of yourself without a need for a pat on the back? In other words:

Is it all about you, or is it all them?

So just go - get moving - think outside the box – be creative in how you pay it forward. Afterwards, leave a comment on this post and let me know what you did! Who knows how many lives you will touch with just one small, seemingly inconsequential act of unselfishness?

Maybe, just maybe, that one person you help will realize what you have done for them and do something kind for someone else, and that person will do something for another person, and that person will help another...

And maybe, just maybe, we can collectively change the world...

(This post was inspired by a sermon given at Palm Valley Church on 7/25/09)

June said...

I love this post. I think we are soul sisters. Thank you for so beautifully putting these things into words.

Jan (J.T.) Thomason said...

we are twins, seperated at birth (i'm not sure i spelled seperated correctly. Hmmm). I COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS POST because it's exactly my philosophy.
I pay it forward every day, all days.

Veleta (Sammy) said...

thank you so much for this thought process.. really touched my hear and reminded me I am not number !, God is and he has love for all of us! This is also in my sunday school class aboutk thinking of others..