The Beauty of Paying it Forward

There are all kinds of things that can make us happy in this world (whether you choose to believe it or not). One of the most simple and most gratifying though, is doing something for someone else.

Volunteering, giving to charity and organizing fundraisers are all incredible ways of contributing to causes for other people, but making someone happy, bringing even a tiny moment of unexpected joy, can be simple.

Thought we may forget sometimes, it’s the little things that take our fellow human beings by surprise the most and leave a real lasting impression. It could be holding a door open for a mom with two kids and a stroller in tow, or even just returning some dropped money to its rightful owner.

The truly amazing power of these small acts is that it inspires the desire to pass along that positivity and selfless gesture, which is also known as “paying it forward.”

A couple weeks ago, I was in the drive-thru line at Starbucks, ready to pay for my morning latte, but when I reached the window the Starbucks employee told me I was all set.

“The woman in front of you already paid for your coffee,” they said.

Completely shocked by this unexpected act of kindness (I mean, Starbucks lattes are not cheap), I stuttered an “oh my, thank you” to the smiling employee and slowly drove off, still in awe. I saw the woman responsible for the act stopped at the light in front me, but she made to effort to wave or otherwise explain her surprising action.

We went our separate ways, but I can’t quite explain just how long this moment stuck with me. Of course, it was only after I was later sipping my delightful, free beverage, when I realized that it was a random act of kindness and that the best thing to do was to pass that amazing moment of surprised joy to someone else.

It took me almost a week to find myself back at the Starbucks, but when I asked to pay for the person’s coffee behind me, the Starbucks employee (different from the one who had told me about my coffee-donating patron) just smiled and said, “How wonderful!”

That in itself felt amazing, and I drove off glancing in my rear-view mirror at the unsuspecting girl behind me who would be told any minute that her Monday morning Starbucks had been taken care of. It made me relive my experience all over again.

The real beauty of it all truly came when I was paying it forward. It was double the pleasure (double the fun?) remembering being on the receiving end and then also seeing someone else benefit from something as well.

So next time someone does you a kindness, or even if you just feel like starting it off, just remember to pay it forward. It truly will give you a moment of happiness.

When was the last time you had the chance to pay it forward? Did you?


2 thoughts on “The Beauty of Paying it Forward

  1. Her Royal Thighness

    Last week, I was having a really bad day, which started when — in the rain — one of my windshield wipers flew off. On my way home from work, I stopped at Brandon Honda (which isn’t where I bought my car) and went to the service department. They were able to pop the wiper back on, then the service guy asked me if I’d like a car wash. “How much?” I asked. “No charge,” he said. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even pay to have my car serviced there. When he brought my car back, he wouldn’t even accept a tip. I drove all the way home with a renewed sense of humanity. Something for nothing. That never happens. I was tickled pink. And I will totally pay it forward in other ways. Thanks for the lovely reminder!


    1. sjpr

      That’s amazing! It really is one of the best feelings to be so surprised by a random stranger and you’re right, it does sort of renew your faith in mankind a bit. Makes you believe like a bit of the magic we see in the movies exists right here.


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