Mark Twain said,:“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” If you are struggling this holiday season, you may think you can barely address your own needs much less think about somebody else. The gift of the paying-it-forward concept is that you can make a big difference by doing something very small. In giving, you are connected and gain a sense of community.
In his book, Learned Optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman asserts that it is not in the quest for pleasure that humans find happiness; rather it is in the quest for meaning. Humans find meaning through contributing to something bigger than themselves. In contributing to your community, even in a very small way, you feel human connection. In intentionally contributing to someone else’s life in a positive way, you can find meaning.
When I was newly divorced and struggling with so many things, I was the recipient of pay it forward and I have never forgotten the people who offered support.
Giving Helps Healing
A good friend would periodically drop off homemade soup and sometimes a full meal at the front door. Another friend raked my leaves. My hair cutter offered to suspend charging me until I got my feet back under me. All these people gave without expecting anything in return. The difference they made in my life was immeasurable.
As I struggle to come to grips with my father’s health and heal from my divorce, I notice that the time I can focus on other people is a saving grace. It is a positive energy source that pays exponential dividends for a small investment of time.
I have volunteered for three years with Dress For Success, an organization that promotes economically disadvantaged women. I find that the women who I am supposed to be helping teach me awe-inspiring lessons about how to live a graceful life. I am energized whenever I connect with these women.
Small Contributions Matter
If you are struggling through a challenging time, consider a couple of very small things you could do for someone else –even if that person is a complete stranger. Notice the shift in your spirit.
Check out the website www.payitforwardday.com for some great ideas. Here are a few:
• If your schedule allows, volunteer to shop for an elderly or disabled person.
• At a drive-through, pay for the person’s coffee or meal behind you.
• At a toll booth, pay for the car behind you.
• Fill out the comment card at a restaurant and rave about your server.
• Leave a surprise tip for your mail carrier.
• Give someone a compliment
What are one or two things that you could do today to pay it forward?