Life Hack #15 – Pay It Forward

With the holidays coming around, this season should serve as a daily reminder to pay it forward, though you should always try to pay it forward.

According to Merriam Webster, the phrase “pay it forward” is defined as, to “respond to a person’s kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else” (Webster). The concept of to pay it forward was first introduced, or memorialized, by Benjamin Franklin, in a letter he wrote Benjamin Webb in 1784, where he displayed confidence and support in Webb, by lending Webb money for his business, as a result of his previous good character and manners he had displayed towards Franklin. In this case, Franklin places his trust in the hands of someone who had previously shown him good deeds, lending him money, as a way to pay it forward.

While this is just one example of the concept of paying it forward, there are many ways to pay it forward this season, or just in general, without it involving money.

The action of paying it forward, or expressing love towards others, should come from the heart. This act should make you feel good! And, while people may not always be kind in every situation, showing any form of kindness or compassion, including saying “thank you,” holding the door for someone else, passing along a compliment, smiling, or showing gratitude are small ways to pay it forward.

Regardless of how you are feeling about life, making others feel good should always be a priority in your life. Making others around you miserable by choice is just not a sustainable life.

I have seen great acts involving paying it forward. Recently, a teenager walked into my place of work with someone, who appeared to be her grandmother. The teenager requested that the elderly woman order whatever she pleases, and let me be real, our menu is not the cheapest. So, the elderly woman proceeds to place an order for a gyro meat plate, and I ask, just as I ask every other customer, if she would like to add three falafel balls for an extra $1.50, and the woman hesitates. The young teenager speaks over the elderly woman, stating confidently, “yes, why not? Let’s just add three falafel.” So, I continue to make the order, and while I am checking the two ladies out at the cash register, I ask if either of them would like a drink. The teenager exclaims, “let’s make it a large mint tea lemonade,” and our fresh mint tea is also the most expensive item on the menu. I proceed, regardless. The final price comes to be about $20, including tax, and the teenager quickly hands me cash. I ask if she wants any taziki or tahini sauce with her plate, and the teenager looks at the woman, and she nods, so I grab her some extra sauces and put it in a bag, with her white pita bread. I thought nothing of this, until the old woman forgets her drink. I immediately react, grabbing the drink and sprinting out the door. I see them outside the store, sharing a conversation. I quickly interrupt, I apologize for interrupting their conversation, and I hand the elderly woman her drink. During their exchange, I hear the young teenager say, “Now, enjoy your meal and have a wonderful, wonderful day!”

I am in shock and so humbled by this random act of kindness, as the elderly woman so gratefully exclaims, “Thank you so much, dear! You are a wonderful person.” I am so humbled and feel every warm emotion go through my body, as I had just witnessed such a beautiful, selfless act of kindness. As the teenager, who so kindly and graciously helped this elderly woman, begins to walk away, I have nothing to say, but, “wow, you are truly a wonderful human being. Thank you for your kindness! Keep being amazing!” 

I was left speechless, as acts like these are so rare these days, or often overlooked, or underappreciated. I even felt good after witnessing such a monumentally selfless act of love and kindness. After witnessing that, I personally realized that I should be kinder towards people, and express and act upon the act of love and kindness that exists in this world. It is true, ladies and gentlemen, love and happiness is contagious.

The feeling you get after being kind, just out of the purest intentions, is something that cannot be explained. I try to practice random acts of kindness every day, as some acts of kindness, we are even blind to. The world is much kinder to you than you perceive sometimes, just look at it with a positive perspective. Showing your love and appreciation back to the world is a great way to feel good and make others feel good.

These acts of kindness do not always need to involve money, while I do find that tipping my favorite servers, hosts, and fellow customer-service/food industry folk a little extra is one of my favorite ways to practice kindness. 

Money does not always have to be the case. Surprising someone with coffee or a small treat is always nice, but a simple, “how are you?” or “I appreciate you” text counts, as well. Paying it forward is just expressing gratitude and kindness to those around you, strangers or not, and somehow, subtly or not subtly, letting them feel good or reminding them that they are awesome. Even your presence is sometimes the only Christmas gift, or act of kindness, someone needs. Big or small, paying it forward is important!

Since this is the season of giving, why not practice your giving skills in full-force? You are kind of being forced to anyways! Try to be a little more kind towards the people around you, once again, strangers or not. Surprise someone with a compliment, or give someone a dollar. Do you craft or have any artistic abilities? Give someone a drawing or art project that you did. Love candy? Carry around some candy and hand it out to some strangers or your friends. Next time you walk by a stranger, try to smile and wave. Do you have any extra clothes or canned food around? Try to donate them to a charity, food drive, or clothes drive. Have any extra free-time? Try to volunteer your services this season. Do you have great coworkers you love? Write them a note about how much you love and appreciate them, or maybe bring in some cookies to work. Have a phone? Text your loved ones that you love them and appreciate them, and if you don’t have a phone, try emailing them that. Have a mouth? Say “thank you” to someone who does something kind for you, or just use some manners. Maybe, you could even hold the door for someone else. Do you have ears? Maybe listen to someone problems, and invest your time in trying to offer others your advice and wisdom.

Paying it forward is simple and something that you should get in the habit of year-round. There are so many ways that one could pay it forward this season, so try hard to challenge yourself to make others around you feel good and happy. Sometimes, your act of kindness could be the highlight of someone’s day and you would have no idea. Imagine catching someone off-guard by doing something so great, even if it is a small act, and that becoming the highlight of someone’s day. It is amazing.

Kindness and love are such important values to hold by your side. Watching love and kindness happen right in front of your eyes is an even more incredible view, and something that cannot be explained so simply. The purest and rarest memories you will ever have is when you are doing something kind, as a result of someone else having shown love and kindness. The concept of paying it forward emphasizes the endless cycle of kindness and love, as people often act out of kindness, as a generosity of having encountered kindness.

Christmas means you practice the act of giving, so try to get into the spirit and make it a lifelong habit to partake in. Kindness trumps all, including hate, and this world needs more love and kindness.

♡ Be the kindness you wish to see in the world, and show the people some love ♡ We all need it ♡

xo,

Aichan Tewahade

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