A world where everyone returns every show of kindness they get is a great world. If there’s anything better than that, though, it’s a world where everyone takes that kindness – and pays it forward. There is more than enough kindness and compassion to go around, and every day is a new opportunity to bring sunshine into the lives of people who could really use some light.
Here are some ideas on how you can pay someone’s good deeds forward:
1. Pay for someone else’s coffee
If you’re in line to pay at a cafe and you notice that the person behind you is either having a bad day or choosing his/her drink based on the price, you can instantly brighten up their day by offering to pay for their drink. Alternatively, you can double your order and give the other cup to a homeless person sitting out in the cold. More than the soul-reaching effect of coffee, the kind gesture will surely warm them right up and make their day less awful.
2. Leave coupons and spare change around
Have you ever experienced the thrill of finding long-forgotten bills or discount coupons around the house? Now, imagine if someone were to find such things while lounging in the park or while reading through a book at the public library. Small bills and discount vouchers might be of little value to you – an inconvenience, even, at times – but to a struggling student or a single mom who’s been trying her best to make ends meet, these small yet precious surprises can make all the difference in the world. Notice boards where people usually look for job openings are a good place to leave these mini treats.
3. Buy something from a small-scale vendor and give it away
When paying it forward, the goal is really to spread the effects of your good deeds as far as you can. For instance, you can help two people at once by buying something from a struggling local business or a kid hoping to make extra allowance by selling his/her handmade crafts. If you find that you don’t really have any use for what they’re selling, then give it away to someone who might find value in it. Then, you’d be hitting two birds with one stone.
4. Encourage well-wishers to donate instead of giving you gifts
How many of the gifts you receive on your birthday or around the holidays do you actually end up using? This year, you can try to redirect your well-wishers to a charitable cause you personally support and tell them to donate there the money they would have used to buy you presents. Hopefully, you’d be sowing the seeds for more long-term donors for your personal advocacies while also avoiding the accumulation of gifts and trinkets that you can’t give away in good faith although all they really do is gather dust at home.
5. Randomly compliment someone every day
Paying it forward is not just giving away free lunches and gifts. You can also pay good vibes forward. Have you ever received a sweet compliment when you least expected it? You can share that blissful feeling by randomly giving compliments to total strangers or even to colleagues or classmates you’re not particularly close with.
This is especially effective if you notice that they exerted extra effort on certain aspects of their appearance for the day, or if they’re donning new shoes, bags, or whatnot. Chances are, they’re feeling a bit insecure after trying out something bold and new. Your kind compliment can be just what they need to boost their confidence and entire mood for the day.
6. Condone a long-standing loan
The whole principle of taking out a loan is that it should be paid back in good faith. However, one of the most powerful acts of generosity you can make is forgiving someone’s debt. A family member or a friend who owes you money and struggles to pay it back might not even have enough money to make ends meet, and you now have the opportunity to at least remove one source of constant worry for them. If they still offer to pay when their situation is a little bit better, you can always tell them to just pay it forward.
7. Write positive reviews for small businesses
New businesses find it hard to compete with established brands because a lot of people are hesitant to try new things that not many people are raving about. One way you can pay a small business forward for their good service is by taking the time to review their brand on social media and by personally encouraging your family to try out their products/services, too.
8. Invite new neighbors for brunch/dinner
Moving to a new neighborhood, or a new city for that matter is always challenging. It could take a while before they even feel welcome or like they belong in the new place, but you can always speed this difficult process right up. Being proactive in welcoming new neighbors can give them that amazing sense of belongingness and can make them feel at home in a matter of weeks. Invite them out to brunch or host them over for dinner to assure them that they have gained at least one friend in their new home.
9. Donate supplies to the local animal shelter
The local animal shelter is always in need of food, medicine, and other provisions for the pets they’ve taken in. If you can no longer adopt a new furbaby, you can always help the volunteers at the shelter by donating supplies. Make sure to call them up first to know exactly what they need at the moment.
10. Donate office clothes
When people donate clothes, they usually give away casual, everyday items good for daily use. However, there are a lot of people who are in need of good office clothes for job interviews and the like. Find out if there are churches or non-profit groups in your area running an initiative to help the unemployed get back on their feet, and donate office clothes you no longer use. Alternatively, you can start a similar initiative if you can’t find any group running a similar project.
11. Grant someone’s birthday/Christmas wish
Birthday and Christmas wishes are precious, especially for kids. However, there are some parents who barely have enough to cover extra expenses in excess of the family’s fundamental needs. One way you can help the entire family is by sponsoring an item off the kid’s wish list. Again, there are a lot of child welfare organizations you can coordinate with for this purpose. Better yet, visit an orphanage and personally talk to the kids about what they want to receive for their special days.
12. Sponsor a stranger’s fundraising effort
You don’t have to search far and wide to find advocacy causes you can get behind. Online platforms like Gogetfunding and Gofundme have made it easier for donors to support fundraisers to help strangers. Look for causes that don’t have backers yet, and those that pertain to medical emergencies, as these are urgent concerns where your financial injection will truly go a long way.
13. Donate blood
Donating blood is a simple process that will only require about two hours of your time every six months, but it’s an act of generosity that can actually save lives. However, donating blood is not just beneficial for the recipient. You, as the donor, also gain some benefits from it such as free health checkups and pathology tests.
14. Become an organ donor
This is probably the ultimate way you can help another person without receiving anything in return. By signing up to be an organ donor at the time of your passing, you can potentially save eight lives, improve as many as 60 lives, and enhance the eyesight of two people. Hundreds of people expire each year while waiting to move up organ waiting lists around the world, and you can help save some of these lives by becoming an organ donor.
15. Encourage others to pay it forward
Still, the best way to perpetuate the culture of paying it forward is by asking each and every person you’ve helped not to necessarily pay you back, but to remember the way you’ve helped them the next time they see someone else in need. Encouraging other people to spread kindness whenever they can is one way to ensure that a little of it actually goes a long way.
The world as we currently see it is full of negativity and bad vibes. However, all of us can be agents of positive change with simple acts of kindness that can resonate a hundred-fold. By participating in a culture where people pay their dues forward, we can hope that our kindness will leave a trail of positivity and start a chain reaction that will transcend time and space. It all starts, simply, by paying it forward.
Article by Bella Toledo Edited by Li-ling Ooi