Pay it forward is a simple concept. If someone helps you, instead of repaying them directly, you pass the generosity on to someone else. Most recently it was the subject of a 1999 book and a 2000 film. However, I love this quote from an earlier book by Lily Hardy Hammond, in which she states,
"I never repaid Great-aunt Letitia's love to her, any more than she repaid her mother's. You don't pay love back; you pay it forward."
However, these three words can make a big difference. Indeed the concept has stimulated many projects around the world over the past twenty years. Initiated by school-children, TV personalities, Banks and philanthropists these projects have raised millions and improved hundreds of millions of lives.
The benefits to the recipients of this process are obvious. It brings a smile to their face. It breaks the isolation of deprivation and reconnects them to their community. It boosts their morale when they may be feeling at their lowest. It engenders a sense of belonging with the gift forming a bridge between two hearts. Most of all, it reminds them they are loved.
The benefits flow both ways though. The giver feels valued and their self esteem increases. They have an opportunity to live in the now and put aside their own anxieties. They too get to experience the joy, the insights, the breakthroughs, the opportunities that their support has made possible.
Given all these potential benefits, my question is, WHY WAIT?
Why wait for someone to do some good for us when we can give and get so much from taking action immediately?
Maybe the term itself "Pay it Forward" is weighed down by a sense of obligation? One interpretation of the concept by Ralph Waldo Emerson really gives this impression;
"The benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody."
Let's see if we can make it a bit looser than that...
There are many ways we can choose to help others. We may provide financial, spiritual, educational, physical or emotional support. But the help we provide is not necessarily a "payment". It is actually an investment. When we help others we are declaring;
In short, it is an investment in humanity.
Psychologists have identified the following, "Hurt people, hurt people." Consequently, when you invest your time and energy into supporting someone else, you are facilitating growth and opportunity and for an unknown number of people because I believe, "Loved people, love people."
For more on this idea, take a look at my latest video, also called Pay It Forward.
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In the meantime, take a few minutes for yourself and assess what you could do, today, to invest in the people around you. Capture your first thoughts in your journal, your diary or your phone.
Finally, here's a link to an organisation I bumped into recently that is all about sharing love in all its forms - Make Work More Human. I was fortunate to have a great conversation with the Founder, Renee Smith, who lives and breathes the idea of investing in humanity. Worth a quick scan!
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