What is paying it forward?
Paying it forward is a philosophy of life.
The premise is that you perform a good deed or an act that benefits another person in a completely altruistic manner for no reason or motivation other that it is something within your power to do.
As a result, some time in the future, you will be somehow rewarded or repaid when someone does something good for you.
Recurring throughout history, in many cultures and belief systems, the “pay it forward” philosophy is evidenced in the pagan “law of threefold returns” and the “mitzvah” of the Jewish religion, as just two examples.
The concept of pay it forward was “re-popularized” by the 2000 movie of the same name, about a 7th grader who’s Social Studies class is given an assignment to devise and execute a plan to make the world a better place.
The boy calls his plan “Pay It Forward”; someone who receives a favour does a favour for three others rather than paying the favour back, creating a network of favours. In the movie, it needs to be a major favour that the receivers can’t complete themselves.
How to pay it forward
So how do you pay it forward?
Do something nice for someone. Help someone out. Lend a hand.
It is acting with no expectation of benefit, reward or recompense. It is being kind, helpful or generous when no one is watching and there is nothing in it for you.
Simply doing someone a good deed or performing a random act of kindness is paying it forward.
It is genuine. It is caring. It is the hallmark of a good, mature, responsible member of humanity.
Paying it forward gives you the opportunity to help your fellow man.
Why pay it forward?
You pay it forward because you can.
You have the ability, and the opportunity, to positively affect someone’s life.
It’s being in a position to help.
It’s about giving the gift of yourself.
It’s making a contribution to humanity, when your contribution is not necessarily financial.
And, it’s about the bigger attitude of kindness that it encourages as more and more people pay it forward and experience the concept, building and expanding awareness of the attitude of being nice.
“Pay it forward” is the ideal philosophy for Social Media
Due to Social Media, the extended sphere of influence exponentially increases the number of people that one person can reach. Our expanding network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances provides an opportunity, and the potential, to touch so many more people’s lives; we can easily pay it forward to a much wider audience.
And it’s more than just the act of paying it forward: because we interact and communicate with a larger-than-ever community, it’s an opportunity to set an example and model the behaviour. And, because Social Networks allow observation of conversations, it may even be possible to witness the impact or results.
Social Media may be the ideal environment to pay it forward.
It seems that many people on the various networks already share the “Pay It Forward” philosophy. I’m not going to mention names: first of all there are too many to list; secondly, you know who you are!
I have personally observed countless instances of people’s generosity in helping out others.
It’s an opportunity for us to give value to our connections. It’s a way to show people who you are, what you stand for and to demonstrate the values you hold.
Welcome someone. Acknowledge a contribution, or participation.
Follow back, seek out and follow new, give feedback/encouragement, invite participation.
Provide an introduction, share information, suggestions and recommendations. Answer a question, give a tip and advise of a job opportunity. Share knowledge, expertise and information. Offer support.
Let people know you feel the same way, or advise them that you don’t agree, but that you are interested in what they have to say, that they are not alone or acting in isolation.
Sometimes, just letting someone know that they have been heard is enough.
Do someone a favour. Do yourself a favour. Pay it forward.