Pay It Forward
“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” Aesop
Do you remember that emotionally manipulative movie Pay It Forward based on networking good deeds? I have been trying to counteract a bit of the hate in the world by doing one small unexpected act of kindness for a stranger every day. Many times, situations present themselves and I do it without thinking, but some days are harder.
I’m not an especially kind person so it does not come naturally. I grew up in New York so I don’t smile at strangers. I eat meat so I’m not kind to non-humans. I speak without thinking and often start a sentence with no offense. The random act of kindness keeps me in the present moment and makes me hopeful about the possibility of paying it forward.
If someone is helpful to me on a service phone call, I take five minutes (Apple or American Airlines etc) and I ask to speak to a manager and tell them how great the person was. I write a recommendation on the site.
When I am especially messy in a hotel room, I leave a thank you note with a tip. (often)
I take a walk on the beach and pick up some of the garbage.
I give all my foreign coins to UNICEF.
Before credit card car regulated parking meters. I would leave extra money in the meter for the next person. Now many of the meters go to zero when the next car pulls in.
Wherever I am in the world, if I am in a cemetery or site of a tragedy, I leave stones for the people who no one remembers.
Most of my deeds involve buying coffee or food for someone – a stranger, parking or gas station attendant, receptionist, manicurist, the person on line behind me etc.
I write a positive YELP or Trip Advisor review often.
I buy trashy gossip magazines when I fly and when I’m finished reading, I give them to the stewardesses who are always happy to have the latest gossip to read on their break.
Once in a while, I let someone in front of me at the grocery store with only a few items. I hate doing that from my childhood of old women always getting in front of me “on line”. You have no idea how many old women in Brooklyn jump in front of a twelve year old kid at the grocery store. “Age before beauty’, they would say. If one got through, more would follow.
It is the same with letting someone in front of me, in heavy traffic when I am driving and usually late – so annoying. I have perfected the hyper focus stare at the car in front of me. There has to really be no other options for stranger kindness if I have let you in.
I bring pencils and stickers, toothbrushes and small toys when I travel to third world countries to give out to the children or leave at a school or orphanage. I teach English for a day as well when I can.
The internet helps. If I haven’t done anything, I go online and give money to some random Kickstarter or Go Fund Me student project that looks interesting to me. I like the idea of a stranger believing in your dreams. You never know how that will turn out.
Kindness works a lot better than unkindness.