MOGO Tip: Pay It Forward, Tell Them You Did, and Encourage Them to Do the Same

“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).

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MOGO Tip: Add Something Good to Your Life

boyroseTo many, making MOGO choices can seem like a lot of “giving up” something — certain foods and clothes, transportation options, stuff, personal products, etc. Living a MOGO life isn’t about deprivation or sacrifice; it is about making choices that do the most good and least harm, and that can sometimes mean making a different choice that involves going without something we used to do or have. And sometimes, we become focused on getting rid of destructive products and choices and on “giving up” more harmful habits.

In living a healthy, balanced MOGO life, it’s also important to ADD positive things to our lives — things that bring us balance and joy and meaning. Whether that means spending more time in nature, taking time to pursue a hobby, connecting more with friends and loved ones, pursuing a spiritual practice, volunteering for worthy causes, or sharing what we’ve learned with others, focusing on adding good to our lives is just as important a part of MOGO (if not more important) than ridding ourselves of harmful choices.

Lately, my husband and I have been more focused on adding “good” to our lives – to doing more that’s positive, healthy, and restorative, and less that’s stressful, lacking in meaning and not aligned with our values. Recently we’ve started a new experiment: we choose one positive thing that we want to add to our lives and do it every day for 30 days for at least 10 minutes a day.

My husband, John, chose drawing, something that he loved to do when he was younger and has longed to begin again. I chose practicing my guitar, something I’ve managed to alternately pursue briefly and neglect excessively for many years. We were only successful with the experiment for the first 11 days of March…and then my mom came to visit; we’ve postponed our efforts until next month. But, in the 11 days that we did the experiment, both of us found a great deal of joy and fulfillment in just those 10 minutes a day. We hope to add something new and positive to our lives each month for the rest of year, and then to reflect on how we’ve changed, and whether our lives are more joyful and values-aligned. Some of my future planned experiments include yoga (for health), bicycling (for the health of me and the planet), writing emails to legislators and policy-makers (to practice my citizen activism), and exploring the natural world (to help remind me why I work so hard to live a MOGO life and encourage others to do the same).

Of course, there are a lot of ways to add something new and MOGO to your life, so consider what healthy, sustainable, restorative, positive, life-affirming MOGO action you could take. You could try the 30 days/10 minutes experiment, or something else that better resonates with you.

If you’re considering taking on a significant life change and need some major support (in addition to the friends and family around you), you might consider using a tool like First 30 Days. I ran across this website recently, and it has tips and support for dealing with the first 30 days of all sorts of changes, from managing a disease to adopting a pet (or child) to living better in all sorts of ways. You can even sign up to get a tip a day sent to your email inbox.

How Are You Spending the Days of Your One Precious Life?

calendar31“Time only seems to matter when it’s running out.” ~ Peter Strup

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)

“At some point in your life, you’ll only have thirty-seven days to live. Maybe that day is today.” ~ Patti Digh, author of Life is a Verb

I’ve been reading a book called Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally. The book came about because, 37 days after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, the author’s step-father died. That experience led her to think long and hard about how she would spend her time if she only had 37 days to live; she discovered that what was most important to her was “living each individual, glorious day with more intention.”

Part of what I really like about this book  is that it makes me think hard about how I’m spending the days of my life. Am I making choices that truly reflect my deepest values? Am I really positively contributing to the world? Am I living joyfully and fully?

None of us knows how many days we have, which is all the more reason to make sure that our time is spent in ways that are truly meaningful to us and nurturing to the world.

Ask yourself: if you were at the end of your life, would you be satisfied with what you’ve contributed? With how you’ve lived? What would you want to be able to say about how you’ve helped create a just, compassionate, sustainable world? If you don’t like your answers, there’s still time to transform your life so that it more deeply reflects your values.

~ Marsha