Unconditional random acts of kindness make the giver and the recipient feel good.

A friend and I were enjoying a nice dinner at a fine restaurant one evening. We looked across the restaurant and saw a young couple hand in hand enjoying a good conversation and holding hands. They looked a little out of place or overwhelmed. My friend called over the waiter and told him to send a good bottle of Champagne to them, “and don’t tell them where it came from, just tell them to enjoy it” he said. They never found out the anonymous benefactor but we all enjoyed the feeling.

Imagine buying a coffee at Blenz or Starbucks and paying for the person behind you, buying a sandwich for the homeless person you passed on the way to work, or giving a rose to the cashier at your local grocery just because you could.

Roger Ebert in his review of the movie wrote that in the real world, altruism is less powerful than selfishness, greed, nepotism, or paranoia. If you have any doubt look at the front pages – Can an idea change the way people behave in this world or do you need something more tangible than an idea?

The term “pay it forward” was coined, or at least popularized, by Robert A. Heinlein in his book Between Planets, published in 1951:


What is Pay It Forward?
Pay It Forward is a book written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, but it’s also an idea. It’s an action plan within a work of fiction. But does it have to be fiction? We’re hoping not. In fact, since the book was released in January of 2000, a real-life social movement has emerged, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. What began as a work of fiction has already become much more.

How Can I Pay It Forward?
The premise of the novel Pay It Forward is one that any person can implement in his or her own life, at any time.  It begins with doing a favor for another person ~ without any expectation of being paid back.  Indeed one would request that the recipient of that favor do the same for someone else ~ ideally, for three other people.  The unconditional favors can be large or small.

A message from CATHERINE RYAN HYDE, author of Pay it Forward

“The Pay It Forward Movement is the real-life reaction to the release of my novel in early 2000, followed by the creation of the Pay It Forward Foundation, followed by the Warner Brothers movie. I didn’t write the novel expecting a social movement, but it’s certainly been exciting to watch it grow.

The purpose of the Pay It Forward Movement website is to bring together, in one place, as many real stories as we can. This serves several purposes. It helps the cynics see that Pay It Forward really is working, not just around the United States but around the world. It brings much-deserved recognition to those doing the work, and puts the results of their efforts out in the open so others can be inspired. It’s also a source of some good news for a change, a way to renew your faith in human nature.

Bear in mind that I only know the Pay It Forward stories that someone took the time to report. I’m guessing that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of one in a hundred spontaneous acts of kindness. What you see on this site is barely the tip of an iceberg.”

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