Each year on February 17, people all across America celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day by performing good deeds for no particular reason for people they don’t even know. Why would they do this?
The idea behind Random Acts of Kindness Day is simply to encourage people to be kind to each other without any expectations or selfish motivations. By practicing random acts of kindness, people can learn how rewarding it is just to be kind to and do good things for others.
As you do good deeds, you will likely find that there are people who really appreciate the things you’ve done for them. In fact, they might be so appreciative that they want to return the favor and do something nice for you.
If this happens, you have a choice. You can accept a good deed in return, or you can ask them to pay it forward. When you ask someone to pay it forward, it simply means that you ask them to repay your kindness by doing a good deed for someone else. In this way, you can help others to keep spreading kindness to even more people.
Some people specifically promote the pay if forward concept. When they do a good deed for someone, they ask that person to pay it forward. Sometimes they even ask others to pay it forward to several other people.
For example, let’s say you do a good deed for someone. When they thank you, just say you’re only trying to make the world a better place. Then ask them if they want to help you spread the kindness.
If they do want to help, ask them to repay your kindness by paying it forward and doing good deeds for three other people. Ask them to pass along the same pay it forward message to those three people.
If those three people in turn help three other people, you will have just started a pay it forward kindness movement! Your one good deed will have quickly turned into 13 good deeds, and those good deeds will quickly multiply from there!
For many people, the pay it forward concept may be new. Believe it or not, though, it’s an idea that’s actually been around for thousands of years. No one knows for sure who first came up with the idea, but it’s been talked about and used for a long, long time.
For example, the pay it forward idea was a key part of the plot of Dyskolos (“The Grouch”), an ancient Greek play by Menander from 317 B.C. Other famous people who have written or spoken about the concept include Benjamin Franklin, poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, author Robert A. Heinlein and legendary college football coach Woody Hayes. More recently, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s 2000 novel Pay It Forward was turned into a popular movie with the same title.