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Pay it forward.

Updated on January 31, 2015

Spreading good karma in the world

Just a few days ago, I was running a few minutes late for work and when I pulled up to the drive through window at my usual Dunkins Donuts, the cashier smiled, handed me my coffee and said "You, my friend, are all set." I must have looked confused, as if this young man was forcing me to steal my morning coffee. He chuckled and told me that the woman in front of me had paid for my coffee as an act of goodwill after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Let me tell you, this random act of kindness TOTALLY made my day. What this cashier, or the woman who bought my coffee did not know: I had spent my morning stressed about upcoming co-pays for necessary dental work that I need.

This random act of kindness changed the entire direction of day and how it had been going. Unavoidable life stress like co-pays seemed just slightly less detrimental because someone else in the world cared about me and how my day was going, and even better... this woman was a stranger.

What better way to honor a random act of kindness than to share with the world just how much it meant to me! I was inspired to come up with a few simple and overlooked ways to make anyone's day just a little bit better.

1. Pay for the person behind you in the drive through line.

We are unfortunately in a time of economic recession, and financial hardships for many hardworking Americans. I am fully aware that not everyone has the means to often spend an extra $5 on the person behind us in line. With that said, these are for those times that maybe things are going a little better than normal for your wallet. Next time your paying for your coffee and you reach down to grab your money and you see that its financially plausible, try it out! You may find that it makes your own day.

2. Holding the door.

Instead of the everyday hustle and bustle of in and out of doors, and rushing around just trying to arrive where you are headed, take one extra beat to pause and hold the door open for the person behind you.

3. Pay it forward

After my Dunkin Donut line experience, I paid it forward at the tolls. Pay for the person behind you in the toll line. If you are feeling crazy, pay with a five and ask the toll person to pay for the next 4 people!

4. Lend a hand

Next time you see someone struggling with some shopping bags, or a door, or the unfortunate occasions that we witness someone who clearly has too much in their hands overflow and drop it all. Lend a hand! Go out of your way to clear a path, ask if you can relieve them in some way, hold a bag or two while they locate keys, or ask your neighbor if they would like some help unloading their bags from the car.

5. Find a penny

I got this one from watching my 11year old sister do this once. She was so excited to find a heads up penny for good luck. Three stops down the road as we were walking into the grocery store, she stopped and put the penny back down facing heads up for someone else to find. Except, maybe you drop a dollar bill in somewhere that the finder might find useful, like a gas pump, or in front of the cash out line at the grocery store.

6. Compliment a stranger.

There are at least 12-15 times a day that I admire someone's outfit or think their hair looks really great, etc. I have started to make a point of letting people know when I love the bag they are carrying, or the hair piece that they clearly put some time into picking out, because it coordinates perfectly with their outfit. It feels good to let someone else know you notice something complimentary.

7. Bring in cookies or donuts for your co-workers

If everyone did this once in a blue moon, there would be a plethora of random great mornings to arrive at work, setting a great tone for everyone's day.

8. Share your umbrella on a rainy day.

The next time you find yourself standing in the rain with an umbrella. Take a look around and see if there is anyone stretching out their hood for some shelter and offer to share your umbrella.

9. Spare a quarter.

We have all been in line watching the poor person who knows they are holding up the line, about to put something back because they have accounted for funds inaccurately and they are short a few cents. Offer up the extra few pennies it takes to complete their payment.

10. Please, Thank-you and smiling.

These are the little things, taken for granted, and overlooked as civil duties that are fundamental for quality of life in any social setting. If there is nothing else from this list of ideas that you choose to embrace moving forward, I encourage you to simply take this one with you forever. Always, always, always say please after requesting something. Always, always, always, say thank you after receiving something. Go out of your way to consciously smile as often as possible. "Smiles are contagious" after all, and that's something everyone deserves to catch.

I would like for all of you to remember that these are just a few ideas that I could think of! Put simply: keep thinking! There is always going to be that moment when an opportunity arises to step in and act, to change how someone feels about the world for the better. Will you be the person to recognize that moment as it arises?


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