We have all heard the amazing stories of individuals who “pay it forward,” but it wasn’t until recently that I experienced the amazement of this force of gratitude first hand. Coming from a family of Chiefs fans, my siblings and I, along with spouses and children, met up at one of our favorite establishments for wings, beer and Chiefs football. All twelve of us together, life couldn’t get much better, or so we thought.
When it came time to pay the bill, our server let us know our tab had been taken care of by someone who wished to remain anonymous. In shock, we immediately looked around to see if we knew someone, but all of us remained oblivious to whom this generous stranger could be.
Later that evening, a friend of ours who was also at the restaurant called us saying he had overheard the manager talking to a gentleman who had been sitting alone at the bar in a Chiefs jersey. He was thanking him for such a nice gesture and asked, “Why’d you do it?” The man explained that it was a birthday wish of his great aunt. Her request was that, instead of putting money towards a gift, his family was to spend that money on doing something nice for someone and telling her their individual stories of good deeds.
In the days and weeks going forward, we are still conscious of this man’s simple act of kindness. My kids and I have gone through their collection of children’s books and donated them to the local children’s hospital. We’ve donated clothes, linens and toiletries to the homeless shelter and made an extra effort to be generous to those around us in our daily lives.
Dr. Alan Luks is considered among the top experts on volunteerism and how helping others can benefit one's emotional and physical health. He has said, “Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders serious and minor, psychological and physical.”
Paying it forward can be carried out in both our personal and professional lives. This past holiday season, staff at Envoy collected winter accessories and left them tied to trees as donations to the homeless. Envoy has participated in many charitable events over the years and will continue to do so for the humbling experience gained.
These are testaments that the influence of paying it forward is contagious. Too often, we forget to acknowledge the power of kindness and its simplicity. Try it for yourself and see how paying it forward and the act of kindness can leave an impression on your character of good faith.
Here are some suggestions on how to get your pay it forward starting today!
- Hold the door open for the person behind you.
- Introduce yourself. Make new colleagues, classmates, etc. feel welcome.
- Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk or driveway.
- Write a positive Yelp review about a local business.
- A popular one, pay for the person in line behind you at the drive-thru.
- If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them.
- Leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places.
- When someone wants to repay you for something, ask them to pay it forward.