“You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven.” He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. “Then it sort of spreads out, see. To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?” ~ from Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
A lot of people have heard of the book and/or movie called Pay It Forward, authored by Catherine Ryan Hyde, in which a young boy hopes to create a better world for himself, as well as others, by doing a good deed for 3 people and asking them to “pay it forward” by doing a good deed for 3 other people, and so on. The PIF philosophy has inspired a lot of people, sparking the Pay It Forward Foundation, the Pay It Forward Movement, and a whole bunch of individuals and groups paying it forward.
It’s a philosophy that I really love and believe in, and I try to “pay it forward” whenever I can. But, I’ve been forgetting an important part of paying it forward: letting people know that I’m doing so and encouraging them to do the same. Of course, I don’t mean that we shouldn’t do kind things unless we can tell someone we did them. (In fact, I love doing little kind things anonymously.) But, when it’s appropriate, it’s an important part of paying it forward to encourage others to pay it forward, too. Here’s a recent example.
My mom and husband and I were downtown for a presentation about the crisis in the Congo. When getting out of our car, a woman came over and asked if we could make change for 50 cents for the parking meter. I gave her 50 cents and told her to keep it. She was surprised and grateful. I told her “Just pay it forward to someone else.”
That extra statement — “Just pay it forward to someone else” — can be the catalyst for helping kindness and awareness grow.
By the way, if you’re interested in sharing a Pay It Forward card when you do some of your good deeds, you can download and print out Pay It Forward cards (pdf).