Pay it forward

I don’t know about you but I’ve always been lucky enough to be able to afford my morning coffee, actually I can usually afford an afternoon one as well! 

Today I’m going to tell you about a movement that has inspired un-ending amazing initiatives, I’m talking about the Pay It Forward movement.

The idea of paying forward random acts of kindness has been around for a really long time, the earliest evidence we have of the idea dates back to Athens in 317 BC… however specific to recent years, in 1999 Katherine Ryan Hyde wrote a novel called Pay it Forward, which was then turned into a movie which had two of the most gorgeous people ever in it, Jon Bon Jovi and Helen Hunt, as well as a man who is not good news at all so doesn’t deserve to be named in this podcast.

While the general idea of paying it forward is to extend an act of kindness to another person instead of directly repaying someone who extended an act of kindness to you, this novel and subsequent movie were more specific in that the good deed that you do should be something that helps someone accomplish something that they cannot do on their own and ideally is at a ratio of 3 to 1 meaning that someone does one good deed for you and you Pay It Forward by doing three good deeds for others. In this way the intention is that this will cause a positive ripple effect and spread kindness throughout the world. 

People everywhere took this movie and book to heart, many people ran with the idea or came up with similar projects.

For example in Australia in 2007 Blake Beattie founded international pay-it-forward day which is now practiced in over 70 countries,  and it is estimated that at least 5 million acts of kindness have happened because of this annual day. 

In The USA there is the Pay It Forward movement and foundation. They encourage Kindness by having bracelets which read pay-it-forward. Not only can they be worn as a reminder to do your acts of kindness but you can also pass them onto more people and while over a million of these bracelets have made it out to over 100 countries not many of these bracelets are still with the people who originally received them. There is even an  organisation in America which has a Pay It Forward project specific to education which takes the immediate impact off students and allows them to simply pay it forward to the students that come after them. 

This idea and movement continues to morph and take on more forms, one of my favourite being that many cafes that you go to now have a system where you can pay for two coffees instead of one, which means that homeless or otherwise disadvantaged people in the area know they can always get a hot cup of coffee from these businesses. 

I also love the idea of a karma Cafe. What this means is you can come in and pay for the next person’s meal and coffee so every time anyone eats there they’re being paid for by other people, it feels almost like a gift. 

There are a few places in my city called Lentil as Anything. There are a couple of basic principles that they hold which borrow from the pay it forward movement. First of all there are no prices on the menu, which means if you are in need of a hot meal or a drink you can come in here anytime and be looked after, regardless of if you can pay or not. What this means for everyone else however is that they can decide to pay extra to cover the cost for the people who perhaps don’t have enough money to pay. 

The best thing about these places however is that you have the option to volunteer to work for this cafe, so regardless of whether you can or can’t pay for your meal, you can also help in other ways.

One of the ideas I really love is the idea of kindness card. My lovely Mum always has a stash of these handy and all you have to do is when an opportunity comes up to do a random act of kindness make sure that the person who was receiving the act of kindness will get one of these cards.  On these cards is an explanation saying that they have received an act of kindness from a random stranger and all they have to do is hang on to the card until they have an opportunity to do the same for someone else. 

There is such a warm fuzzy feeling that you get from having a random act of kindness done for you, whether from a stranger or someone you know. 

In 2014 a woman went through the drive-thru at her local Starbucks in Saint Petersburg Florida and not only paid for her own coffee but also a cup of coffee for the person in the car behind her. What I’m sure she didn’t know is that the person behind her would feel so moved that they would go on to do the same thing for the person in the car behind them, and so on and so forth, so that this chain of kindness and paying it forward would last for around 11 hours and include around 377 coffees.

In 2015 Tracey Warshall who worked for a company which provided cancer treatment, was standing in line at a grocery store and noticed that the man in front of her who is still anonymous had seemingly forgotten his wallet. She paid for his groceries and he must have taken note of her name and the name of the business that she worked for which was on her t-shirt, because about a month later it came to light that the anonymous man had made a donation in the amount of $10,000 in Tracey’s name to the company she worked for.

In 2013 Charlene Killarney had just experienced the loss of her mother, and in the lead up to Christmas received a Christmas card and $500 gift voucher from a man, Christopher Chiarenza. While Charlene didn’t know him at the time, it turns out that this man had experienced an act of kindness from Charlene’s mother previously, and he was paying it forward to Charlene in her time of grief.

In the 80s in country Queensland, Australia, 12-year-old indigenous student Waverley Stanley was taken under his teacher’s wing. Seeing his potential, she took it upon herself to organise a scholarship at a private school for him, changing his life forever. After receiving this kindness, Waverley Stanley has more than paid it forward by setting up Yalara, a scholarship program for indigenous kids to help them attend some of Australia’s top boarding schools. As of today, Yalara has provided this education opportunity to over 300 students. 

It doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive gesture on your part, you would be surprised the impact you can have on someone’s day just by surprising them with a free coffee from you, a kind stranger. I think the positive feeling we get when we have done something kind is also pretty great, so I really don’t see the downside with such an amazing movement! After researching this movement, I am definitely going to get some kindness cards myself so I can start looking for opportunities to do random acts of kindness, and inspire others to pay it forward. Perhaps there is something you can do too? If you enjoyed this episode I would certainly encourage you to go out into the world tomorrow with a view to pay it forward! 

One way you could do an act of kindness for me is to rate, review and share the podcast… spread the love far and wide! 

Thanks so much for being here with me for this episode of good news, good night.   

Sleep well.

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