Pay It Forward

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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.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Peace In The House, Peace In The World

Peace in The House, Peace in The World

“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

In the Jewish tradition, there is a high idealized standard of family life characterized by wholeness, fulfillment, nurturing, respect and kindness. It is believed that God dwells in a pure and loving home. It is called shalom bayit -peace in the house.

Peace starts with us. We must create peace in the home to carry it outside and share it with our communities, our cities, our states, our country and then the world. It is more than saying I want World Peace. It is making a conscious choice do something differently in our lives. It is choosing to deal differently with our own conflicts and frustrations. It is learning communication skills and taking responsibility for our  actions. It is taking these commitments we have made to ourselves and bringing them out into the world.

As Gandhi says, become the change you want to see. We can’t depend on our leaders anymore. I do not believe that I will see World Peace in my lifetime. But if we do not change how we behave to other people, it will not be in any lifetime.

Be good to those around you. Selfless acts of service to those in need will change your life and theirs. Teach your children about the world around them. Learning about other cultures, religions and customs enables children to understand different perspectives and develop a feeling of connection with all people.

There are more people in this world who want love and peace than there are who want hate and war. The media focuses on the bad. We need to focus on the good.  I have met good  people from all over the world which makes me still believe that peace is possible. There are more people who want to live in harmony then chaos.

I try to do something nice for a stranger every day. It started after seeing the movie Pay It Forward. Sometimes it is small like leaving money in a parking meter for the next person, buying a coffee or a drive through meal for the person in line behind me, giving food to a homeless person, picking up garbage that I see on the beach, listening to the person standing in front of a store who is raising money for something or talking to an old person sitting on a bench alone in a park. My hope is that they will do something for someone else. Maybe it will make one person a little less angry, or more peaceful and connected during their day. 

Become an expert at living your life with wholeness, fulfillment , nurturing, respect and kindness and maybe those around us will follow. If we are lucky, it will trickle up.

Fly safe,

JAZ