Ten Reasons to Pay It Forward

To pay it forward means that instead of paying someone back for a good deed, you do a good deed for someone else. Paying it forward takes on all sorts of shapes. You can relinquish your first-place position in a long line at the 7-Eleven when someone behind you is in a hurry. Maybe you’ll buy a nice bottle of wine for a couple across the way in the restaurant at which you are dining. On a rainy day, you can go out and give an umbrella to someone who needs it, and while you’re at it, you can get some pet food for a homeless man’s dog. Cheryl Ray, one of our US Represented columnists, always gives money to the person in front of her at the grocery store who doesn’t have quite enough cash to pay for all the groceries. Here are ten reasons to pay it forward.

  1. When you pay it forward, you aid others who could use some minor help or who are in desperate need of serious assistance. Either way, you’re changing someone else’s circumstances for the better, and in some cases, you might even be saving someone’s life without even realizing it.
  2. When someone benefits from a good deed and is tasked with helping someone else, he or she learns the mechanics of reciprocity, which can lead to a better understanding of generosity and compassion. Hence, the person paying it forward grows as much as the person receiving the act of kindness.
  3. Consequently, paying it forward reframes interpersonal interaction at both an individual and a collective level. This alters the climate of our three main realms—home life, the workplace, and sociable places. People who act more altruistically in all phases of their lives make the world around them a more pleasant, manageable, and interesting place.
  4. Paying it forward introduces you to a wide variety of new acquaintances who might enrich your life, both emotionally and financially. People you would have never met under different circumstances sometimes become pivotal players in your life.
  5. By paying it forward at someone’s request, you practice honor, credibility, and accountability by respecting someone else’s wish and acting upon it. This might carry over into other actions in your life, thus reshaping your personality for the better.
  6. Others tend to trust you more readily and take you into their confidence when they see you paying it forward. They prove more willing to consider you worthy of respect.
  7. When you pay it forward, you realize that life isn’t just about you. It’s about all of us living together and sharing the moment. Not paying it forward is like standing in front of an ocean and just sticking your toe in the water. Paying it forward is when you dive in and surf with the dolphins.
  8. Paying it forward makes you feel good about yourself. Granted, maybe pure altruism doesn’t exist in the sense that we act on our own behalf even when we do good deeds for others, but so what? There’s no crime in that. We’re still performing kindly acts, and being happy is better than the alternative.
  9. You tend to grow creatively by paying it forward on a regular basis, mainly because you must sometimes generate imaginative ways to help others, all the while wondering what the person who asked you to pay it forward would think.
  10. Paying it forward might become an essential part of your critical thinking process. If you have children, they will see this in you and carry the same tradition forward.

Paying it forward changes the chemicals in your brain. It can become an addiction, but what an addiction to have. You can even schedule pay-it-forward acts into your day since fate doesn’t always place opportunities in front of us. If we all perform a kind act and ask the recipient to do the same for someone else, the world will be a better place.