Pay it forward in Kindness – Be the reason someone smiles today

A few years ago, I watched a movie called “Pay it Forward” with Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. Such a good movie. For those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s all about a boy who chooses to ‘Pay it forward in kindness’. He sets out to do random acts of kindness, and all he asks in return is that they pay it forward to someone else in a random act of kindness. They would then ask the person who they’ve helped to do the same, and so on. Until the world is filled with people just doing nice/kind things for each other. Great concept huh?

We do have a ‘Pay it forward in kindness’ day, of which I believe is the 30th April. A day? Why not every day?

I will always help people or be nice to people when I can. I would definitely consider myself to be a good/kind person, but I wonder if I could be doing more? I started to look up examples of paying it forward, and some of the real-life examples are just brilliant:

  • This blogger had their meal paid for them at the drive through, from the woman in the car in front. Their receipt had “Have a great day, and pay it forward”
  • A pizzeria in Philadelphia called Rosas Fresh Pizza has a sticky note pay it forward scheme. It’s where customers can buy a slice of pizza for someone else, and a sticky note for it is added to the wall. This means that anyone can come in, take a sticky note from the wall and claim their slice. This has helped countless homeless people! What an amazing idea.
  • Starbucks in Florida ended up with 378 cases of paying it forward, all thanks to just one person starting it off. The person who started the chain decided to pay for the person behind them coffee, and in turn they did the same and so on. Ok, there was customer 379 who ruined the streak, but there will always be one right?
  • Homeless man in Philadelphia gave a young woman the last of his money so she could buy fuel for her car. She repaid him by setting up a Go Fund Me page and raised over $280,000 for him.

Notice that all of these stories are in America? I have searched for stories in the UK, and all I can find is pay it forward organisations:

  • http://payitfwd.org.uk/ – This appears to be where restaurants/cafes can sign up for the sticky note idea that the pizzeria in Philadelphia does. Notice the distinct lack of businesses taking part, and the fact they’re only in England.
  • http://payitforwardday.co.uk/ – A site that gives idea’s for paying it forward for one day a year. Nice idea, but why only one day? Why not every day the opportunity arises?
  • https://www.payitforwarduk.net/ – This appears to be dedicated to the concept of paying it forward whenever you can, but almost looks like the updates fizzled out in 2016.

I also notice that the UK ideas appear to be more charity related. I’m not sure that’s quite capturing the idea of paying it forward. Or certainly not what I take from it. To me, paying it forward is a selfless, random act of kindness you do for someone else, whether you know them or not.  The idea is that when you do this random act of kindness for someone, they then pay it onto someone else. Hence the name ‘Pay it forward in kindness’.

Here are some pretty great suggestions for paying it forward, some of which I will be looking to do as and when the opportunity arises:

  • Pay for someone’s drink/food. Just like Starbucks in Florida; Why not buy someone’s coffee today? Leave money at the till for the person behind and ask them to pay it forward. Who doesn’t appreciate a coffee? Or perhaps pay for someone’s meal?
  • Give positive feedback. If you have a positive customer service experience, be sure and feed that back to their manager. Having worked in customer service, I appreciate what recognition for hard work can do for your working morale.
  • Compliment people! I do this anyway, but I think it’s something that we should always be doing. If someone looks nice, or they have done something you think they should be proud of, say something nice to them. No need to add a statement of ‘pay it forward’ to the end of your compliment. You will find it will make them feel happy and will most likely encourage them to compliment others.
  • Excess carrier bags? Who doesn’t have a shed load of those. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have one large carrier bag, maybe a Bag for Life, that holds all your other carrier bags! Why not take a pile of them the next time you go to the supermarket and leave them in a trolley for others to help themselves? It’s also good for the environment. Win/win.
  • Offer someone a lift! More than once I’ve seen someone struggling and I’ve offered them a lift. Albeit only one has accepted, and this was an elderly woman. I noticed her standing at bus stop, in the evening, it was freezing and raining. I stopped and offered her a lift, and she happily accepted. I have stopped and offered others, who probably thought I was totally mental, or looking to lure them in to kill them, and they said no, but it was nice to be nice and offer.
  • Donate your time! There are so many charities that look for volunteers. One I have been keen to get involved with, when I have spare time, is Shelter Scotland. We also have a bit of a foodbank crises here in the UK, so why not find out how you can help? You can donate food, money or time, whichever you have would be greatly appreciate. How can this be paid forward? Well, as someone who relied on such things once upon a time, I can tell you now that I always donate to them, as I understand how important they are.
  • Pay for someone’s parking. Something that is utterly ridiculous where I live is that you must pay for the hospital carpark. And the rates are just awful. Recently my daughter was hit by a car. I drove to our A&E department with absolutely no change on me. I had to run into the hospital and get a hold of my sister who works there to get a ticket for my car. I’m pretty sure that I had bigger things to be worrying about, other than a £30 fine! Still boils my blood when I think about it. Maybe, if you’re in an area like me leave some money for the next person at the ticket machine. You never know how much this may help!

In a world where you can be anything, don’t be a unicorn, they’re not real, be kind! I love that quote because it’s so true. A single act of kindness could make the world of difference to someone. I know that I have been personally affected by someone’s random act of kindness, and it will not be forgotten. When I was out doing my Christmas shopping, one of my bags burst and the presents I had bought were everywhere. I had people continue to walk over them, push through me as I was now in their way, and someone even tutted as they manoeuvred past. I was angry and embarrassed. Then out of nowhere, this man and his daughter appeared and started to help me pick up my things. They then transferred their shopping into one bag, and gave me their strongest bag. I offered to give them money for it, and they insisted they didn’t want any. They really did make my day, and I couldn’t thank them enough. How is that for a random act of kindness?

I am feeling somewhat inspired to start paying it forward in kindness, I hope you are too! Be the reason someone smiles today 🙂

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