by Larry P. Johnson
(Editor’s Note: Larry P. Johnson is an author and motivational speaker. You may contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website, www.mexicobytouch.com.)
There is tremendous power and positive energy in giving.
A most unexpected and amazingly wonderful thing happened to me recently. I was standing in the check-out line at the supermarket when an older gentleman waiting behind me said, “I would like to pay for your groceries.” What? I was taken aback. My first impulse was to turn defensive and indignantly reject his offer. But then I paused and asked him why. “Well, the Lord has been very good to me,” he said, “and I’d like to do something nice for someone else.” I sensed earnestness and sincerity in his voice. So, I smiled, shook his hand and said, “Thank you, sir.”
It was one of those spontaneous acts of kindness we hear happening to other people but never expect them to happen to us. As the supermarket employee finished loading my groceries into the shopping cart, I turned back to the gentleman and said, “Rest assured, sir, I will pay it forward.”
The idea of “Pay it forward” — to perform an act of generosity for a stranger with the hope that he or she will do the same for someone else — was described in a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde, published in 1999. It embodies the power of giving. “It is amazing the difference a simple idea can have in changing the world,” she said, “one good deed at a time.”
In 2007, international speaker, management consultant and author Blake Beattie chose to found “Pay It Forward Day” in Australia on April 28. He hoped it would become a global initiative to create a huge ripple of kindness felt across the world.
“Some people were originally quite skeptical of the whole idea,” Mr. Beattie said. “They said that it was good in theory, but not in practice. I challenged this point of view, believing that people are genuinely giving by nature, but many get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every-day life.”
There are now over 80 countries participating in Pay It Forward Day, with over 100 state and city proclamations.
“Our hope,” says Mr. Beattie, “is that people pay kindness forward every day and make each day that little bit brighter. We believe that small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can literally change the world for the better. We are aiming to inspire over 10 million acts of kindness around the world. Imagine the difference that would make!”
So why just make it one day? Shouldn’t we be paying it forward every day? “Absolutely!” answers Mr. Beattie. “We should be looking for ways to help others every day.” To quote Winston Churchill: “From what we get we make a living — from what we give, we make a life.”
What can you do? Pay for a stranger’s cup of coffee at Starbucks. Get the next person’s food at a drive-through. Or buy a customer’s groceries at the supermarket.
“Pay It Forward” is an idea embraced by people who believe in the power of giving, who want to change the world by inspiring acts of kindness in their communities, showing that there is love, hope and magic all around us. There is tremendous power and positive energy in giving, an idea that everyone can embrace and one where everyone wins.
And that’s how I see it.
When You Give, You Get Back
by Larry P. Johnson