Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, more than likely you’ve heard the phrase “Pay it Forward”. The movie, from the book of the same name, is the story of a social studies teacher who assigns his junior high school class a project to think of an idea to change the world for the better, and then put it into action. Trevor is one young student in the class, and central character in the movie, that becomes intrigued by this assignment and comes up with an idea of paying a favor not back to the person who did one, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. Paying it Forward was a new concept almost 15 years ago when the movie was released. It caught on with the general public worldwide and ignited random acts of kindness.
Just this past August in Tampa Florida, coffee lovers at a Starbucks “Paid it forward” continually for over 10 hours, by purchasing the beverage for the next person in line.While “Paying it Forward”, like at Starbucks, is a kind and wonderful thing to happen for so many people, and many people probably gave freely, but what if you were that one person who really didn’t have enough money to buy the next person’s coffee? What if you felt the “coffee lover peer pressure” to do it just because everyone else did? Can you imagine the possible judgments you would want to avoid, so you just reached into your wallet, pulled out your dollars earmarked for something else and just bought that coffee hoping the smile and thank you from the next person in line would ease your embarrassment of not being able to willingly give.
Gift it Outward
Why wait for a kindness to be done for you and then only share it forward to just 3 people? That could put you in a stressful state, having to remember to find three people to be kind to. Although paying it forward works, I offer an addition or alternative way to spontaneously give and perform acts of kindness freely in all directions…Gift it Outward!
What does Gifting it Outward look like?
When my girls were little, we lived on a street with about 8 other families that had kids around the same age as mine. All the kids would play together in the front yards after school while the parents gathered to visit and keep a watchful eye. We swapped stories and commented often about how lucky we were to have moved to this street from different states like New York, California, and Utah, and found support and friendship with each other. One cold winter morning I woke up feeling so very grateful for my neighbors. It popped into my head to be “the bagel fairy.” So I got up from my warm bed, drove to the bagel store, bought a dozen assorted bagels and 2 tubs of cream cheese, and randomly chose one of my neighbors to give this gift to without expectation of something in return. It just felt good to see the surprise and smile on their faces when they opened the door with breakfast taken care of for that day. I played the “bagel fairy” on many occasions for the years we lived on that street. It just felt good.
To Gift it Outward does not have to cost money. It can be as simple as making eye contact and giving a smile to a stranger, or patiently holding the door open for the family with playful kids, or simply saying thank you to the cashier for just being there to serve you.
Give the gift of your time.
In my practice as a Life and Parenting Coach, I have clients who are parents with teens. During a session with a single mom and her son, it became clear that the mother was very wired and stressed because she felt she could not leave her son alone for health reasons. She had not taken a moment for herself in days! Without hesitation I offered to watch her son for an hour while she went out and cared for herself. She was a different person when she returned! Smiling, relaxed and ready to be fully present for what her son needed next.
And how does No Judgment. Just Love.™ factor in? When you Gift it Outward freely, it comes from the heart – spontaneously. There is no obligation or requirement. Just a loving thought for another person. So…