To pay it forward means that instead of paying someone back for a good deed, you do a good deed for someone else.
Paying it forward inspires generosity, empathy, concern and compassion.
Whilst we are often chastised for thinking of others more than ourselves, or putting others first before ourselves, and encouraged to put ourselves first more, paying it forward is more about how we can help ourselves feel better by giving. We know it’s better to give than to receive. Focusing on others rather than ourselves, particularly when things aren’t so good can help our mental health and our emotional wellbeing.
Paying it forward helps others and us!
When we help others we get a euphoric feeling afterwards, giving us that ‘feel good factor’. This feeling generates loads of positive things in our brain making us feel so much better. Sometimes doing something for another person might just be recognising them for something they did, saying thank you, or praising them for doing something that was out of their way. A little act for us but a huge thing for them! How wonderful is that?
Paying it forward is also often called ‘acts of kindness’ which can be an action or activity or a financial donation. An act of kindness can just be helping someone and going out of your way to go that extra mile to make a difference to their day. Again a small act but with a significant impact for that other person, and in some cases immeasurable for us and them.
When we are feeling down or stressed and we end up focused on the negative side of things, turning our thoughts away from ourselves onto them can reduce stress and improve positivity. Reducing the stress hormone by showing someone compassion is a natural stress-reliever and so easy to do.
Also, whilst we are focusing on what we can do for someone else, our mind is taken away from our own problems or issues. Our brain starts thinking about the good thing we are doing or preparing to do for someone else. Diverting our attention from an internal negative feeling to an external positive feeling is an amazing diversion.
Whether you are feeling low, down, depressed, stressed or overwhelmed, or whether you just feel you’d like to do something nice, consider paying it forward and decide on an act of kindness you can do today. You never know you might get in the habit of doing something every day.
Imagine a world if we all did this!
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