There is a concept known as “Passing it Forward”. It is essentially receiving an act of kindness and then at some point “passing it forward” to another. It need not be the same act or the same thing, but the idea is you do on to others what they have done for you. And over time an act of kindness is repeated from person to person, cascading throughout the landscape. Like a domino effect, these acts of kindness can grow like a wave, splashing goodwill upon all those that come into contact with this behavior.
The notion of offering random acts of kindness through the act of passing it forward is thought to have evolved from a Lily Hardy Hammond book she penned in 1916 called, “In the Garden of Delight”. So often we get caught up in our own lives and become self absorbed about our own selves and problems and lose sight that our own species…the human race….largely became successful through its collective spirit of looking out for each other. The very tribal nature of how we live and interact with each other…care for each other….is a prominent survival trait. So “passing it forward” is not just good for another, but in the long run benefits everyone around you, particularly if your good deeds are repeated by many. We find this spirit of goodwill in many of the more popular phrases, some of which I share in this post. The theme of paying it forward is a cousin to the idea of “its better to give than receive”. I am sure you can think of many other similar wisdom’s that are part of your culture or religion.
The idea of passing it forward or “pay it forward” is the opposite of a conventional loan type of arrangement. Rather than repaying the person who did something good for you, you instead pass on the the good will to another person. If the spirit of this behavior catches on, then the influence of doing good for others can be a meaningful event. Much like loving a person, you do not pay back love, rather you pay it forward.
This state of mind has become part of literary and social history. In the Lloyd Douglas novel, Magnificent obsession, he put forth the idea that good deeds should be practiced with confidence and shared with others. In 1944, Alcoholics Anonymous picked up the concept by espousing that “you cannot pay anyone back for what has happened to you, so you must find someone you can pay forward.” And of course, you see this practice repeated over and over within the members of this group.
Paying it forward through random acts of kindness is akin to a holy concept for many in that it is associated with practicing good Karma. A few years ago, a college student, Christopher Lo, became a prominent disciple of this philosophy when he developed a website and created the Karma Seed Service (i.e. www.thekarmaseed.org) He received the inspiration after a stranger recovered his lost video camera. A Karma Seed is a small plastic card with a unique number you can utilize to gain access to the website. If you do something for someone (i.e. pay it forward), you can give them the card and check it online, then encourage them to pass the card to someone else only after they have done a good deed for another. Whoever possesses the card can go online to find out the history behind all of the good deeds that are associated with this card.