Pay It Forward

If someone did you good, show your gratitude by paying it forward…

Most of us have encountered at least one Good Samaritan in life -- someone who did us an unexpected favor or even brought around a miracle when we least expected it. We might have known that person, or they may have been complete and utter strangers. We may have continued to be in touch with them, or they may have vanished into thin air like the angels of mercy they were. The good deed may have been small enough to bring a smile to our faces or big enough to drop us down on our knees… The only thing important, about anything good that was done to you, is to pass it forward to someone else in need.

Why does kindness work?

Passing it forward, random acts of kindness or a good deed – call it anything you like, but the basic emotions behind such acts are kindness and gratitude. We are grateful when someone does us a good turn, and this gratitude is best reflected as paying forward kindness – to someone in need, to a complete stranger or even to someone we know.

  1. It makes us happy and joyful: The very act of giving is joyful. As happy as it makes us to receive something, giving makes us happier. It makes us feel as if we achieved something, as if we are inherently good people and that by doing something positive for someone, we reaffirm our belief in ourselves. The realization of us having good in us makes us happy; it re-ignites faith in us – faith in ourselves and in the holiness we believe in. So paying it forward or just starting the chain makes us happy on so many different planes.
  2. It makes us feel better about ourselves, and the world: Doing something good for someone makes us believe that the human race has a chance – that if we, being our biggest self-critics, can do good – so can the others in the world. This makes us feel that for all our faults, redemption lies here, now and forever in kindness – for ourselves and for others.
  3. It alleviates our need to express gratitude: Receiving a favor or help puts us in debt of the universe. Feeling indebted makes us restless – and there are plenty of us who keep thinking of the Good Samaritans in our lives. Repaying a favor to the same person sometimes feels like ingratitude. Passing on the favor, however, to someone else –whether they are acquaintances or complete strangers -- makes us feel as if we have at least partly paid it forward.
  4. It’s infectious, in a good way: We live in a competitive world where everyone out there is in a mad rat race to prove their worth. Luxury cars, exotic vacations and sprawling homes are one way to show off. A quieter, happier way to prove ourselves to the world is to lend a hand every now and then. And if we adopt kindness as a motto, then our friends, family and even children learn and strive to make the world a happier place.
  5. It reduces our karmic “footprint”: We all talk about reducing our carbon footprint by carpooling, pedals over metal and by going and growing organic. But what about our karmic footprint? Deliberate or inadvertent, we have hurt people all through our lives – in business or personal dealings. This negative karma starts to affect us slowly, steadily and surely. It makes us insecure, angry, fearful and even more negative. Kindness is one way to negate that karma and build up on positivity. If we spread positivity around us, surely, it will come back to us in ways both big and small and at times when we least expect it.

Short Story: The Indian Paradigm

I live in India, politely known to the world as a developing nation. We are a country of engineers and scientists, sportspersons and celebrities, leaders and entrepreneurs. We are the nation of the Kamasutra, of Ayurveda, of Yoga, of Gandhi, of Buddha... If you come to India, you will be surprised by the wealth around – the buildings, the glittering cars and the floodlit malls. You’ll be delighted with the diversity of culture, thoughts and beliefs.  And then you will be shocked by the poverty around – the filth-strewn lanes, the makeshift houses, the naked and dirty street children.

To me, and to most Indians, this is our way of life. It’s what we’ve seen, it’s what we’ve lived and experienced all our lives. After a point, we’ve become immune to it all. When half-naked children tap at our windows, we ignore them. Sometimes, to alleviate this guilt, we donate to various charitable institutions, never bothering to find out if our generosity actually reached the intended. Why am I talking about this here?

It’s because with a country as huge and a population as large as India’s – just one random act of kindness everyday could turn this poverty-stricken developing nation into one of the happiest ones. Food for a street dweller, a blanket donated on viciously cold nights, just letting the elderly or the physically challenged walk or pass before you or even making sure that food is not wasted

Call them common courtesies, call them benevolence or kindness, call it charity or just a way to balance out all that we have been blessed to receive… Small acts of kindness could make the world a better, happier and far more joyful place. We can all start with extending one random gesture of kindness that could inspire us to do better, more often.

Thank you dear readers, for letting me air my thoughts and feelings. May your day be a blessed one and may you pay it forward in the best way possible… If you have a kindness story to share, inspire us in the comments section below.