How can one ordinary person—you or me—make a positive difference in this world by paying it forward? While these four steps might be simple, the outcome could create a sense of luck and good will that changes the world.
1. Be attentive wherever you are for opportunities to help someone.
Perhaps you have an elderly or disabled neighbor who is too proud to ask for help with their yard work or maybe you’re in a restaurant and see someone who looks like they could use some kind stranger to pay for their meal. You can change people’s attitudes about the world through your unobtrusive acts of kindness.
2. Do something nice for someone you don’t know (or don’t know very well).
It should be something significant, and not for a person from whom you expect a good deed—or anything at all, for that matter—in return.
3. Spread the word.
If the person thanks you and wants to “repay” you (that is, pay it “back”), let them know that what you’d really like is for them to pay it “forward”—you’d like them to do something nice for three people they don’t know, and ask those three people to do something nice for three more people. The idea is to consciously increase the goodness of the world.
4. Pay it forward.
When you notice that somebody has done something nice for you, make a note in your mind to practice three acts of kindness towards other people.
Practicing the “pay it forward” principle will make you alert to unexpected kindness from strangers toward you, and you may find yourself becoming more grateful for everyday kindness and consideration from people you don’t even know.