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What Is Paying It Forward?

Updated on July 25, 2013
Random Acts Of Kindness
Random Acts Of Kindness | Source

Paying It Forward Is Altruism

Ever pulled up to the drive-through of your favorite restaurant, place an order and instead of requesting payment the teller informs you that the person in front of you has already paid your bill? Surprising though it may seem this scenario is now happening quite frequently all over the world. It is called Paying It Forward but what is it really and why do people do it?

Paying it forward is a term used to describe a social activity that has been around for ages. It is the process of perpetuating an act of goodwill from one person to another. The underlying motives behind the acts are varied but I have narrowed them down into three categories. They are; Altruism, social engineering, and for financial gain.

After hearing the drive-through teller tell you that the person that went through in front of you had paid your bill what do you do? “Why did they do it?” is a question that you might ask. After-all they were complete strangers to you. One reason they might have done it is out of sheer Altruism which is giving to others out of the kindness of one’s heart without expecting a return.

Altruists believe in the ultimate goodness of humanity on a whole. They also believe that no condition or precedent is needed to show others that their hearts and intentions are good. People like them know that like society, people have become socially engineered to be selfish therefore random acts of kindness are a way to show that all is not lost.

Paying It Forward Is Social Manipulation

Another reason why that person before you may have paid your bill is to start or continue a “domino effect” where they pay your bill and in turn you pay the next persons bill and so on and so forth. The intent of the person who initiated the process was to encourage a process of giving, their ultimate goal being to encourage a more sociable and giving society.

Also, on a more superficial level their intent may have been to gain some sort of personal notoriety which will ultimately make them feel good inside or in the eyes of their God. They will listen to the news and be proud that they were the one that started that “out of the ordinary pay it forward story” that everyone was talking about.

Paying It Forward is not something that needs to be over analized. What you decide to do after being the recipient of pay it forward is totally up to you. You may decide to do the same for the next person or you can simply accept the act of kindness and move on.

Paying It Forward is Investing

The third instance of paying it forward involves using it as an investment. In this scenario the payer is recruiting the prospect into a business venture but instead of asking for a fee or investment he offers to pay that persons way in. In most cases the prospect becomes more willing to take the chance and further investigate the payer’s business venture. The payer is then rewarded by the efforts of the prospect in helping to build the business.

In Internet Marketing the pay it forward concept has been adapted and used to build huge networks in various niches. The people in these networks all make money off the efforts of the group. The bigger the network, the more money to go around therefore it supports the willingness of group members to recruit others by paying their way in.

From simply saying “good morning” to a complete stranger because it makes you feel good inside to paying for someone else’s cup of coffee in hopes that they will return the favor to someone else, to paying someone else’s way into an investment with the intent of receiving a greater return on the investment, Paying it forward is a system that is used daily in varying ways. So, the next time that a complete stranger bestows on you an act of goodwill, show your appreciation by paying it forward.


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