Last Wednesday, the Starbucks in Springfield thought they might have set a record for the longest chain of pay it forward coffees. They sold a chain of 172 drinks starting at 7:30 AM and stopping at 2:30PM.
Pay it forward is a concept where a good deed is done for a person with the stipulation or expectation that the receiver do a good deed for another person. It is also known as generalized reciprocity, generalized exchange, random acts of kindness, or alternative gifting.
Benjamin Franklin was the first person to describe the concept in a letter to Benjamin Webb. He loaned Webb someone money and asked that Webb loan money to someone else in the future so that his small loan might do a great deal.
Most recently, a novel written by Catherine Ryan Hyde called Pay It Forward was adapted into a movie. In the book and movie, “pay it forward” is described as an obligation to do three good deeds for others in exchange for one good deed received. The idea is make the world a better place exponentially. The book and move spawned The Pay It Forward Movement and the the Pay It Forward Foundation. Their goal is to spread the idea to children, parents, and educators in order to make children more socially aware and also to make the world a better place.
In 2006, Ophra gave $1000.00 debit cards, a camcorder, and a pay it forward challenge to 300 show guests. They were to use the money to help charitable organizations and people within one week and record it.
Pay It Forward has become a valuable social movement. You can read dozens of testimonials at the Pay It Forward Movement website. It is easy to do. If someone performs an act of kindness for you, make a mental note to do three things for other people. If they ask to repay the kindness, ask them to perform three acts of kindness for someone else. It could be as simple as opening a door for a mother pushing a baby stroller or shoveling snow from your neighbor’s sidewalk to more complicated deeds like finding a home for a homeless person. It is a wonderful way for an ordinary person to make a difference and it feels good. You will feel warmth and contentment when you make someone else smile or feel happy. You will feel great satisfaction when you do something that makes the world a better place.
You can get a free bumper sticker at the Pay It forward Foundation:
Pay It Forward.