Is paying it forward real? PDF Print E-mail
Written by McKenzie Lode   

Is paying it forward real?  Are people capable of empathy? Does it have an impact? A friend of mine from the University of Minnesota Duluth recently told me a story that made me believe in compassion and that everyone has the capability of feeling and doing it.  

When you pay it forward, the beneficiary is a third party.  My friend had a few ideas including buying coffee for random strangers or classmates and leaving it on their desks before class. She also thought about paying for the orders of people behind her in drive-thrus or restaurants.She really wanted to do this experiment, but did not know where to start or how to come up with the extra money to do such gestures for others.  After all, she is only a poor college student.

 For her journalism class, my friend had to write an article about kindness.  She decided to do a sort of experiment and execute a series of random acts of kindness toward other people and measure their reactions.  Her winning idea was similar to the idea of "paying it forward" which is a concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instea

One day in class, they were required to tell what journalism story they had come up with. My friend mentioned her "pay it forward" idea in front of the entire class and brought up her problems with starting it.  In her class of 30 people in it, another girl raised her hand and posed a solution to my friend's problem.  Just days earlier, she had received a letter in the mail with a check including $100.00 and a note saying "pay it forward." The girl had been holding onto the check not sure where to put it to use, until then. She offered my friend the $100.00 to help her with the experiment and to pay random acts of kindness to strangers.

This story floored me, I almost can't believe the obvious signs and help that is received with good intentions.  People are good natured and still have compassion, I am sure of it. Empathy, if lost can be recovered, and paying it forward does and can exist.  This story shows how talking about your interests in 'paying it forward' may motivate others to be compassionate in ways you can not predict.

We could all do random acts of kindness. And some of us can afford to put money or another kind of gift into envelopes and watch its compassionate ripple effect.

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Nancy Kehmeier
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written by Nancy Kehmeier, March 30, 2011
This is a good story. I think the idea of 'prepare yourself' and the solution will find you is such an uplifting one. And that's what you shared. Thank you.
Caitlin Hurley
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written by Caitlin Hurley, April 02, 2011
A great reminder that we should all be aware that our kind acts are noticed and appreciated

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