Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pay it Forward

As we hit the middle of the spring semester, we often realize how much we are we have on our plate and it is difficult not to get hyper focused with our own problems and stressors in life. Here is an unconventional way to distress and have a new perspective during these hectic moments.

Have you ever heard of the phrase to “Pay it Forward?” The phrase comes from the idea of selflessly giving to others without asking for anything in return. Instead, this concept is meant to inspire others to carry on this idea of giving to others.   

It even has become a global movement!

You’re probably wondering why we would suggest a concept like this. Here are a couple reasons why:

1) It turns our focus away from ourselves.  Instead of the usual thought pattern of “How can I benefit from this?” or “What’s in it for me?” the question of the day is more like, “How can I create a little happiness for someone?” or “How can something I do let someone know, with no strings attached, that kindness is still present in others?”

2) It’s centered on giving rather than taking. Taking or receiving is what we do when someone gives us a gift.  It’s certainly what drives most dreams — we go out and claim it, make it happen, both are forms of taking.  But giving — the ability to give — is a gift unto itself. 

3) It’s joyful both ways.  Doing something nice for a perfect stranger can generate an unmatched feeling of pure joy.  As well, being on the receiving end where you least expect to find kindness feels a lot like hot cocoa and a soft, warm blanket on a stormy day.

One of the best takeaways of this idea is the way giving to othersputs our own lives into perspective and how even small actions can affect others in large ways.

Here are some ideas on how you can contribute:
- Put a quarter in a meter, any meter, that’s about to expire
- Be nice to the customer service people who are trying to help you with your technological difficulties
- Thank the cooks, wait staff and bussers personally
- Forgive a driver directing road rage at you
- Buy or pack a meal for a homeless person (or give him/her your to-go box from a restaurant)
- Give a warm coat to a homeless person
- Mentor someone
- Make a donation
- Let someone cut in front of you at the grocery store
- Give someone a chance to prove him or herself
- Encourage someone to pursue their dream
- Hold the door open for someone
- Tip a cab driver generously
- Teach a child something you wish you knew at that age
- Offer sincere, kind words to someone who’s hurting
- Spend some time with a senior citizen living alone
- Give up your seat on a crowded bus or train or ferry
- Loan something to someone and forget about it
- Give blood

What are some of your ideas on how you can pay it forward?

Learn more about National Pay it Forward Day here.

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