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The Kindness Movement: From Tiny Ripple to Worldwide Rally

2012 February 2

Don’t wait for someone to be kind to you … show them how.

Without realizing it we perform small acts of kindness each day; simple things such as smiling and greeting people in a friendly manner, saying please or thank you, opening a door for someone or complimenting them about how they look or about something they’ve done well.

When we choose to do a “good deed” for other people, it makes them feel good and it makes us feel good; and as an added bonus research shows that when we do something good, our body rewards us by releasing endorphins. These morphine-like substances create a feel good experience, and also have the capacity to reduce or even block pain signals to the brain. In fact people suffering from physical or psychological pain actually experience relief when they carry out an act of kindness.

Sometimes it’s hard to be kind …

The truth is it’s pretty easy to be kind to someone you know and care about, or someone who’s been kind to you … not so easy when it’s someone who’s just cut you off in traffic, been rude to you or ignored your efforts to be friends, or who’s dressed shabbily and asking for a handout.

By definition an act of kindness is a selfless deed performed to either help, cheer up or pass on goodwill to someone, for no reason other than to make them happier without expecting anything in return.

It is when we choose to accept the literal definition of kindness that the real opportunity to make a difference in the world comes in to play because it means agreeing to reach outside our comfort zone to do our part to make the world a better place.

My car got towed this evening and believe me I was furious until a voice named Charley Johnson got into my head and said “Until you care about that person who flipped you off in traffic, the world will never change.” So, what did I do??? I got “piffin” mad instead LOL, asked the tower how his day was gave him a tip, thanked him, and then gave him my (PIF) bracelet. ~Alex Bynum

Alex is a member of the Pay It Forward Facebook Group and I was so pleased when she was kind enough to allow me to share her experience with you because to me it reflects, in a way we can all relate to, exactly what the Pay It Forward movement is all about.

Pay it Forward

Maybe you had the opportunity several years ago to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book Pay It Forward, or see the movie of the same name starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. The premise is that if someone begins with three acts of kindness, and asks that each of the recipients “pay it forward” … that one person can change the world. I was reminded just how brilliant the dialogue is in this movie when researching this article and came across some of the quotes from the film.

Trevor McKenney: Are you saying you’ll flunk us if we don’t change the world?
Eugene: Well, no. But you might just scrape by with a C.

Trevor McKenney: I guess it’s hard for people who are so used to things the way they are – even if they’re bad – to change. ‘Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses.

Jerry: [tearfully] Do me a favor… save my life.

The Pay It Forward concept is not only alive and well today, it has grown from a ripple to a major international movement.

Charlie Johnson is the President of the Pay it Forward Foundation, a TED Talk Presenter and creator of the Pay it Forward Bracelet, a physical reminder to do good that has (so far) been sent to over 1 million people in 112 countries.

This is a dynamic group of individuals who are putting tremendous energy into expanding the PIF movement, so if you like the idea of being a part of something world changing, I encourage you to visit the PIF Experience website to learn more. PIF is a closed group on Facebook but you can request to join … there is a LOT of activity and it’s all pretty amazing. I’d love to see you there!

Just a couple of upcoming PIF events:

  • Worldwide Flash Mob on March 28th
  • National Pay It Forward Day on April 26th

If you’d like some ideas on intentional acts of kindness, here’s a link to my article with a list of 50 things you can easily do to start creating your own ripple.

If we allow ourselves to focus on all that needs to be done to “fix” our world in these uncertain times it would be easy to question what one person could possibly do to make a difference; but there is always something that we can do. Something as “simple” as a smile can change a person’s day. The next time you find yourself thinking that you’re too busy to allow someone ahead of you in traffic, consider that it will only set you back a minute or two — not a lot of time in the long run; you will have made someone’s day and they’ll be far more likely to let someone else in the next time they have the opportunity!

There is no such thing as a “small” act of kindness!

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22 Responses
  1. Jason Homes
    February 29, 2012

    Wow! So we literally get good things from doing good deeds. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jeffrey Sooey
    February 18, 2012

    Inspirational post! Pay it Forward is such a great concept that all of us can really learn from. It is true that being kind to those we know and love is easy but those that have particularly irked or have brought some negative feelings towards us is a real challenge. Our world can never really change without each one of us consciously doing something for the better good of all.
    Let us start and Pay it Forward.

  3. Rheumatoid arthritis permalink
    February 14, 2012

    Its a wonderful post Marty, thanks for sharing. In the present, we really need kindness in our hearts and help others so that we can get it from others if needed. Its the law of nature that co-operation is must for the living of a society so we all must participate in the events of kindness for the long living of our society.

  4. February 10, 2012

    I agree wholeheartedly with this message. Like most people, I often find myself getting angry, annoyed, and frustrated with people. I’m not a member of “Pay It Forward,” but when a situation like this arises, I always try to take a step back and think before lashing out. Getting angry and taking it out on others just continues the negative cycle, but if you can take a deep breath and be kind, you can end that cycle. I try to have perspective, because little annoyances really don’t matter in the bigger scheme of things, and it’s up to you how you let things affect you. To me, it comes down to a choice between fixating on the negatives and getting annoyed, and letting the small things go and moving on. And I’ll always choose moving on if I can.

  5. February 8, 2012

    Hi Marty

    Thanks a lot for your great post it almost walk hand in hand with my blog, Every one can apply the PIF on my blog. Well it is just sad that people do not want to help most of the time even if it is for the good of the world. I just see that happen for the last week. What is also sad it that people you think will help do not really help at all. the same old thing about Family and friends.

    Theuns recently posted..The Secret is out – The “It’s All About GrAtiitude!” ProjectMy Profile

  6. February 8, 2012

    I loved Pay it Forward, and an thrilled to see that people are making it into a movement. What a thought provoking post, thanks for sharing the stories from your group.
    Sarah Arrow recently posted..Circles: like Twitter or Facebook lists but far more effective.My Profile

  7. February 8, 2012

    Marty what a beautiful post:) People take kindness (sadly) so much for granted. We’re all too busy going about doing our own thing we often forget about others. But just taking 2 minutes out of your day by doing a kind gesture can not only make them put a smile on their face but also makes you feel good.

    I recently read The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann which is an amazing book on how giving is the secret to having a successful business:)
    Lilach Bullock recently posted..12 Killer Analytic tools to measure your successMy Profile

  8. February 8, 2012

    Aloha Marty,

    I agree with everyone, Kindness and paying it forward is really important. We are lucky that we are living the life that we wanted. I think its our role to reach out to those who aren’t. Thanks Marty for the motivations.
    Herbert recently posted..How Podcasting Can Help Your Business?My Profile

  9. Divina permalink
    February 8, 2012

    I agree with the title of this post. “Don’t wait for someone to be kind to you, show them how to…” It’s like do not expect of something in return when you have given anything to a person. Give it full-heartily.
    Divina recently posted..Happy New Year To All Of You And Hope You Like The Aquarium Fish Photos Here …My Profile

  10. February 7, 2012

    Hi Marquita,
    Being kind can bring only positive things in your life. Of course it’s not easy to be kind with people that might not be too friendly with you but you have nothing to lose. By giving to people and helping them without expecting to get something back you feel much better and most of the times people who get your help will most of the times help you when you need it, it’s just that simple…
    Kostas recently posted..Creating Collective Virtual OfficesMy Profile

  11. February 6, 2012

    Marquita this post is so timely! Kindness and paying it forward it so important.We are all in this together and we need to learn that being kind to each other and doing acts of kindness should be a way of life for all of us. One of the ways I am paying it forward is to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my cookbook-Deliciously Holistic to Slow Food USA. I really believe in their mission and wanted to do whatever I could to help them. Thanks for giving us all a reminder of what’s important in life. :)
    Shelley Alexander recently posted..Chocolate Hemp Chia Ice Cream With Flax Chia CrumbleMy Profile

  12. February 6, 2012

    I loved this PIF story. I’d never heard of them, but will check them out on FB now. I think it’s a great idea. The way to build yourself up is to build others up first. It seems ironic, so many people don’t try it. You never truly realise how well it works until you try it – especially if you try it when you’re at your meanest. :-)
    Anne recently posted..Boost Body Confidence: 4 Easy Ways To Do ItMy Profile

  13. Marifel permalink
    February 5, 2012

    It is never bad to do good deeds to others even they aren’t doing it for us…God knows how to give in return and we just need to be consistent…
    Marifel recently posted..How To Overcome AnxietyMy Profile

  14. February 4, 2012

    Great post Marty, one of my favorite saying is give christmas gifts in July and take December off. Meaning give when it is least expected. People appreciate your kindness even more!
    Kathryn Rose recently posted..Social Buzz Club 2.0 – Launched! Post to Multiple Twitter, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn Groups and MoreMy Profile

  15. February 3, 2012

    Hey Marty, I didn’t know there was a group for Pay It Forward. I will go on and request. Another way of saying the same thing is Go-Giving! We learned that when we opted into internet market two years ago. The more you give the more you get.

    Did you ever see a person that was “afraid” to pay it forward? I have and it only keeps them stuck in their path.

    Great job once again,
    donna merrill recently posted..Prosperity MindsetMy Profile

    • February 4, 2012

      Hey Donna, almost didn’t recognize you without your avatar! Yes, I have seen people who were afraid to pay it forward, and you know I think there the key word is “afraid” because sometimes life just doesn’t play fair and when people have suffered some hurt or setback it’s harder for them to give first. The good news is it can all start with a smile :-)

  16. February 3, 2012

    It will not happen if you will just wait. Instead of waiting for someone to be kind to you, it is best that you should do the first move and show them how to do it. Be a role model for them. In this way, they can also have the initiative to show kindness.
    Candice Michelle recently posted..singapore home loansMy Profile

    • February 3, 2012

      Thanks Candice, always appreciate your thoughtful comments. I think we all know it’s not always easy to be kind to the turkeys in the world, but it really is the only way to create that ripple of change and make a lasting difference. :-)

  17. February 2, 2012

    Hello Marquita!
    This message will never (and should never) go out of style. God knows we all need more kindness in our lives. Sometimes a single person can make all the difference in an otherwise yucky day. That said, the ones who need our kindness most are ones who are unable to be kind. If I believe in love, than kindness is love in action. I better go put my money where my mouth is, right? :)
    Srinivas Reddy recently posted..The Power Of HabitMy Profile

    • February 3, 2012

      Ha, I love a good sense of humor and yep, as hectic as life is we can all use a reminder from time to time. Thanks Srinivas!

  18. February 2, 2012

    We are to each other what cells are to other cells in our body. Each cell has a purpose and that is to support the others, and vice versa. When a link is broken, then troubles surface.

    Pay it forward is a manifestation of the necessity of life. When we are kind to others, we maintain the balance of nature without altering its essence. The problem nowadays is that we have built ourselves a deficit in that respect and there is whole lot of repair needed in order to redress the order of things.

    So yes, wholeheartedly, as you so eloquently say it, let us give to others bubbles of ourselves so that their faces may light up again and in turn light up others in their life.
    Stevie recently posted..eHarmony – Get The Wild off The Dating Wild WestMy Profile

    • February 3, 2012

      Hi Stevie, thanks for contributing to the conversation so eloquently!

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