Friday, June 19, 2015

Paying It Forward

“Pay It Forward” was a movie released in 2000 about a twelve year old boy named Trevor who unknowingly started a huge movement by coming up with an idea for a school project that he called Pay It Forward.  The assignment the teacher gave his students was to come up with a plan that would change the world.  Trevor’s idea was that one person would do an act of kindness for three people and then each of those three people would do an act of kindness for three people and the acts of kindness would spread around the world.  Because Trevor didn’t see the immediate results of those kindnesses, he thinks that the plan was a failure.  What he didn’t know was that the movement was working and was having far reaching effects all across the country and people were making a difference just with their small acts of kindness.  Many of those acts ended up being bigger than people could ever know because lives were even saved.

It’s a beautiful movie and one I would highly recommend.  Before the movie was released, Catherine Ryan Hyde, the author of the 1999 novel, established the Pay It Forward Foundation.  According to their website, the Foundation was established “as a catalyst to inspire growth for the Pay It Forward philosophy, acts of kindness among strangers, generating a ripple effect from one person to the next, one community to the next.”  (

There was also a Pay It Forward Day established and the website claims that there were over three million people in seventy countries around the world participating in these celebrations in 2015.  The next Pay It Forward Day will be on April 28, 2016 and you can go to their website at to find out how you and your community can participate. 

It always warms my heart when I see people committing random acts of kindness, or even when people go out of their way to help others.  I see a lot of these stories on Facebook and many of them have caused me to bawl a river of tears because the stories were so heartwarming.  There are many stories where people have nothing and yet they are willing to give everything if it helps anyone in any way.  The problem is that so many of us get so busy in our own lives that we don’t think to reach out to others even in the smallest ways.

There are so many things we can do to commit random acts of kindness that won’t take more than a moment or two from our day.  Personally, I’ve made it a habit to look for ways to help people when I’m out and about.  It doesn’t cost me a thing, but the rewards are great.  It not only makes the other person feel good, but it makes me feel good and it lifts all of us up.

There are so many things we can do to make a difference in our own neighborhoods.  The other day, my dad’s mower stopped working and our neighbor lent us his one push mower and then came over with his riding mower and helped mow the lawn.  It may not have seemed like much to the neighbor, but it was a wonderful gesture to us. That’s being a good neighbor and we so appreciated his kindness!  And once in awhile, we see letters to the editor in the Herald Citizen newspaper where someone thanked Cookevillians who went out of their way to help complete strangers.

It really doesn’t take much to be kind.  Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  Barbara De Angelis stated, “Love and kindness are never wasted.  They always make a difference.  They bless the one who receives them, and the bless you, the giver.”  And Mother Teresa said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, and kindness in your smile.”

I love it when the Dalai Lama said, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”  Can you imagine if all religions had kindness as their core philosophy?  Jesus and all the other great spiritual masters taught us to be of service to our fellow beings and to harm no one, but do we follow their teachings? 

Committing random acts of kindness is a great way to start.  Find ways to pay it forward.  Kindness is contagious, and personally, that’s one thing I don’t mind catching and spreading around. 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 19, 2015.

1 comment:

Joy Scudder said...

We never know just how a small kindness touches someone's life. Excellent article. Sharing so that others might "pay it forward".