Pay It Forward Day: Contributing to 10 Million Acts of Kindness

The last Thursday in April marks International Pay It Forward Day, a celebration of altruism and the good of humanity. In 2015, people from 75 countries participated in Pay it Forward Day inspiring more than 5 million acts of kindness to date. This year marks the movement’s 10 year anniversary with a goal to hit 10 million random acts.

The practice involves regular people performing acts of kindness for others without expecting anything in return. Instead, they will pay it forward and do the same for someone else to create a ripple effect of generosity. The global phenomenon has inspired over 50 state and city proclamations for the day in the United States alone. What can you do?

1. Pay for someone’s cup of coffee

Buying a cup of coffee (or tea in my case) for a stranger is one of the easiest ways to do good and feel good. A gratis warm cup of Joe could be enough to make an angry businessman’s day or help lift a displaced person’s spirits.

Some countries encourage suspended coffee, or caffe sospeso, which asks that when customers buy coffee they also pay in advance for a cup to be given to someone else. The recipient is usually someone who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

2. Buy a meal for the homeless

If you often walk by the same stranger sitting outside of the grocery store or restaurant begging for some money, it may be likely that they are looking to get themselves food for the day. While we don’t know what their circumstances are, it’s nice to offer this stranger a meal. It can be as simple as going inside and grabbing a handful of fruits or a sandwich from the deli.

Another quick step in the right direction is finding a local homeless shelter and trading in your lunch hour to volunteer at theirs. You’ll still get to provide the gift of a warm meal without paying for it yourself.

3. Offer someone a ride

On a rainy, snowy or extra sizzling hot day, there is nothing better than finding a friend who is willing to give you a lift to your next stop. Especially if they’re on the way to where you’re going, this is a simple do-good task that will contribute making someone’s day a little more bearable.

This act of kindness is a fit for those who are rather trusting if you choose to help a stranger. And you never know, you may make yourself a new lifelong friend.

4. Donate to a charity or philanthropy

Whether you’ve got $1 or $1 billion, giving funds to a cause you’re passionate about is a great way to tap into the kindness of your heart. Opt out of your second cup of coffee for the day and opt in to reap the rewards of contributing dollars to helping programs, people and movements grow. A quick hack is shopping via Amazon Smile instead of its usual platform to streamline a percentage to the organization of your choice.

You don’t have to be wealthy to make a difference. If you have more time than money, you can also host a philanthropy to raise funds while gathering your community together.

5. Use your business

If you’re a leader among your company, you can use your influence for good to start a movement of your own that will contribute to 10 million acts. DoubleTree by Hilton, for example, is launching #NiceTravels, a multichannel movement driving random acts of kindness - complete with giveaways, contests and a photo mosaic - to prove that “nice” is contagious.

On a smaller scale, some businesses can even let their employees take a personal day in exchange for community service hours. Others have started to host collection drives for funds or goods to donate to their local organizations.

Kindness is dubbed a natural anti-depressant because it can cause a release of serotonin in our brain. Serotonin plays an important part in learning, memory, mood, sleep, health and digestion. These acts can also heighten our sense of wellbeing, increase overall energy and give us an overwhelming feeling of positivity and self-worth.

Today, I challenge you to pledge to pay it forward and to eventually turn it into a habit. Each act will get us closer to 10 million.

Visit www.payitforwardday.com to learn more.

Been trying hard not to get into trouble, but, I’ve got a war in my mind.

Character flaw No. 8: I am vengeful, by nature, and can hold a grudge for eons.

grudge (noun): a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury

Synonyms: spite, malice, resentment, negativity and plain stupidity

I’ve been trying this new thing called “being a better person” and I come to a roadblock every time I’m stuck thinking about ways to “get back at someone.” Maybe it’s the fact that shows like Gossip Girl and Dexter are among my top 10, maybe it’s the fact that I was raised to “stand up for myself” to the point where I’ve become extremely vengeful, or maybe it’s my screwed up notion that the universe needs to be in constant balance.

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But, lately, I’ve realized that these lingering grudges are what have been preventing me from moving forward.

For example: I’m feeling good, I’m feeling happy. I read a tweet from someone I am not fond of. I “subtweet” them back. They subtweet me back. I’m angered. I’m childish. I’ve taken a step backward.

It’s said that “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I couldn’t agree more! By holding on to a grudge I am poisoning my very being. I become dark, vengeful, angry and negative in every form. In reality, I make a fool out of myself in an attempt to make a fool out of someone else.

But wait, what about the benefits of holding a grudge?

Some argue that by holding a grudge you “burn your past” or prevent yourself from getting hurt once more. I mean, think about it, if you tell yourself time and time again that someone is a “horrible person,” you will consciously and subconsciously avoid all interaction with this person and potentially eliminate that pain from your life. Also, if people know you’re vengeful and great at taking things deep and to the heart, they will probably steer clear from your path.

SAY “HELLO” TO A LIFETIME OF NO MORE PAIN AND SUFFERING

No. No. That’s actually impossible.

See, I quickly started to realize that the cons of holding a grudge definitely outweighed the benefits. What if the person I was holding a grudge toward had the potential to transform into a great friend? What if people are so afraid to “cross my path” that I miss the opportunity for new experiences and friendships? What if holding a grudge is preventing me from living as an optimist? Most importantly, aside from all of those wishy-washy questions, how is holding a grudge affecting me physically?

That’s an interesting concept Mayo Clinic had a lot to say about. According to them, by “letting go” you can experience:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse

Well, that explains my general anxiety disorder and desire for drink specials…

Clearly, I came to the conclusion that grudges are bad for you. But that didn’t mean I’d stop holding on to them.

I started by eliminating my social network wrongdoings. I blocked a couple of people I knew would cause my heart some trouble. The thing about grudges, too, is the fact that it came to the point where I only held them out of emotional backfire. The moment I saw someone offend me via the internet I immediately sent out some sort of comeback because of some silly frustration.

All was well until someone gave me some intense “baby momma” news.

“This girl must hate me back so she did it on purpose. Let’s make fun of her and torture her life some more.”

FREEZE.

Dear Lissette, you sound immensely crazy. Please stop.

I am so thankful for the fact that my phone was blasted with the news. This really became a turning point in my life.

“Holding a grudge is like picking up a piece of red, hot coal in your bare hand and throwing it at the person you are holding the grudge towards. There is certainly the possibility that you will hit, and hurt the other person. But in order to achieve that potential end you are definitely going to hurt yourself in the process.”

I had a choice. And I chose to let the coal burn from the pit it came from and walk over to this person empty-handed and open-hearted. I wrote to her congratulating her and acknowledging that regardless of all the pain we’ve caused each other the time had come to move forward.

How to let go, you ask?

1. Acknowledge the pain: Denying the fact that you were hurt can only make things worse. 

2. Speak to the offender: Let the person know how you feel and the process you are going through.

3. Eliminate high expectations: Learn to accept the fact that people can, and will, make mistakes.

4. Choose peaceful and productive thoughts: Think happy thoughts. Attract happy moments.

5. Let go: Move forward knowing you have made a positive impact in your life, and someone else’s.

As cliché as this sounds, life is definitely too short to let negativity hold you back from being living a healthy and happy life. All the time we spend thinking of ways to harm others that have harmed us, we can spend laughing and building bright memories with those we love and those we have yet learned to love.

And with that, I say: Cheers to a future without hate, negativity and grudges.

What are your thoughts?