Pay It Forward


This post has appeared several times on my Facebook homepage over the past twenty days.

To start the new year off right, I’m participating in this “Pay It Forward” initiative: The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in” will receive a surprise from me at some point during the year – anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown, homemade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status. Once my first five have commented “I’m in” I will forward this message to you privately, so that you can copy and paste it, and put it on your status, (don’t share it) so that we can form a web of connection of kindness.
Let’s do more nice and loving things in 2015, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable and friendly, and love filled year….

The wording of the post above makes me feel very uneasy. It has a hint of …. ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’. Asking people to post a comment in order to gain a perhaps unwanted gift is not what the original concept was all about.

I think it may have been Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight, who originally came up with the concept.

In the year 2000 an American drama film Pay It Forward, based on the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde, came to our screens. It was directed by Mimi Leder and written by Leslie Dixon. It stars Haley Joel Osment as a boy who launches a good-will movement, Helen Hunt as his single mother, and Kevin Spacey as his social-studies teacher. I did read the book and watched the movie. I have blogged about the concept here. 

‘Pay it forward’ is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. It is not announced in advanced. You don’t tell people you are going to do it. No. It is done spontaneously and randomly when you see someone in need.


Stuck for ideas? Here are some simple suggestions – one for each day of the week.

  1. Giving up your seat on a busy bus/tram/train to an elderly person.
  2. Seeing someone at a cash till who is short of change for the newspaper, and offer the coins.
  3. Reaching up to the top shelf in a supermarket for someone struggling to get at the item they need.
  4. Carrying a heavy load for someone.
  5. Offering a lift to someone walking uphill in the rain.
  6. Giving time to someone in need of a listening ear.
  7. Providing a hot meal for a frail elderly person living on their own.

There are so many other ways we can pay it forward without breaking the bank. If you have starved for a week, a cup of tea or coffee with a sandwich would be manna from heaven.

15 thoughts on “Pay It Forward

  1. bikehikebabe66

    Don’t we do kind deeds anytime, anyway? Let’s be honest. We feel so good after we do them. When someone doesn’t have a smile we can give them one.

  2. rummuser

    That we have to consciously do it mechanically leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think that it is best when we do things for others spontaneously and also express our gratitude when it is done to us on the spot.

    1. Grannymar Post author

      Like the hug I was spontaneously given a couple of days ago by a man I had not seen for about fifteen years, it sure lifted my spirits and warmed my heart on a cold day. Just now on a dull skyless wet morning, a phone call brings an invitation to go out for coffee. I better go make myself presentable!

  3. Cathy

    I’m not a lover of the pay it forward concept as expressed in that f/book post either – it seems a bit cliquey to me. The same thing happens on blogs – follow me, leave a comment, like me, and I’ll draw your name out of a hat and send you a gift. Not my scene at all.

    Doing something on the spure of the moment, I’m sure we used to think of it as ‘a good deed’ – not expecting a reward for what we did. Seems strange to say to someone, ‘because I did this for you I’d like you to this for me’. Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong and that’s what people want these days. To be acknowledged publicly

  4. nrhatch

    Thank you! I felt the same when I saw this for the first time. And I refrained from leaving a comment on the post because I didn’t want to receive a gift with strings attached.

    When we are mindful, ample opportunities to be kind appear in our In Box ~ I’m happy to do “good deeds” in a random nature. But I’m not inclined to agree to send 5 surprises out to get someone to send me one. Too forced.

    1. Grannymar Post author

      All around us are opportunities to do good deeds without prompting, we just need to keep our eyes and ears open.

  5. wisewebwoman

    It should be automatic, right? I dislike those posts on FB along with those “an angel will shower you with blessings if you like and share and bad luck will befall you if you don’t.” Reminds me of those chain letters of years ago.
    FB is becoming quite a spin-cycle of unoriginality regurgitated over and over.

    1. Grannymar Post author

      WWW, you speak my thoughts in your comment. There is so much on FB that I glide past. Making contact with real people is my goal.

  6. jay53

    I don’t see it quite like that. I see it as a way of reminding people that paying it forward is a good thing to do. I did join in with this one. I haven’t received anything yet, nor do I really expect to – and I won’t be in the least upset about that – but I do intend to do my part. The fact that I wrote something in the comments of that post on Facebook will stay in my mind and keep jogging my memory, so that, for instance, if I come across a two-for-one offer on something nice at the supermarket, I might get two and send one to a friend. I quite like the ‘suspended coffee’ idea, too, where you can pay for two coffees when you buy one and someone else can come in later and pick up a free one.

    What I didn’t do is to try to rope others in. I’m not very good at that. I won’t even sell raffle tickets, because I don’t think it’s up to me to try to talk others into doing something they’re not 100% behind.

    1. Grannymar Post author

      Jay, it was the wording in the Facebook post that made me feel uneasy. In general I do believe in the concept of paying forward, but as I said above, it is done spontaneously and randomly when you see someone in need.

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