by Audrey Lintner
|Illustration courtesy of stock.xchng|
If you listen to the news, you might think that the Golden Rule has become, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” Nastiness seems to be the norm, and greed lurks in all corners. Fear not! The news is wrong. Turn off the set and ditch your paper, because we can make reality a far cry from the media’s madness. Consider the possibilities of giving back and paying it forward.
- · The Coffee Shop Effect – Who hasn’t heard a variation of this one? A fellow steps up to buy coffee, only to learn that someone has already paid his tab. He decides to pay for the next person in line, who does the same, and so on. The beauty of this one is its versatility. A cup of coffee, a meal, ten bucks at a department store; you’re limited only by your imagination.
- · The Returned Favor – An easy and always appreciated maneuver, the returned favor offers a number of options. Say your neighbors help you replace your saggy porch railing. You can repay this kindness with similar labor, or (if you’re like me) you can play to your strengths and surprise them with a cheesecake.
- · The Inspiration Initiative – Remember the story of Nico Castro and his quest to share Hallowe’en with hospitalized children? Well, one of the best things about a feel-good story is just that: it feels good. People who hear about such generosity are inspired to be a part of it. They give to the cause or start up their own local version, and pretty soon there’s a veritable giving chain linking people around the world.
- · Give and Let Give – There’s something especially endearing about the generosity of a child. They often have so little, and yet are so eager to share it. A favorite example of mine is a local girl who shared her birthday with tigers. In lieu of presents, she asked that guests take the money they would have spent on gifts and give it to the big cat sanctuary. Since the sanctuary is funded entirely by donations, you can imagine the reaction of the all-volunteer staff.
- · The Ripple Effect – Much like Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson’s dolphin friend, we all have one commodity that never expires, always fits, and is easy to exchange. A smile! Just watch what happens the next time you’re walking down the street or waiting in line. Smile at the folks around you, and pretty soon, they’ll start to smile back. Brightening someone’s day with a cheery greeting is a great way to pay your own happiness forward.
These are just a few examples of the zillions of ways that people help each other on a daily basis. Want more inspiration? How about signing up for Pay It Forward Day, coming up in April? Now celebrated in over fifty countries, PIFD proves that giving is more than just a word; it’s a way of life.
Are you ready to make it yours?