Pay It Forward

It’s holiday season and everyone is full of cheer, good will and, well . . . eggnog.

We’re buying each other gifts.  Retailers are rejoicing with their own version of the spirit of the season:  the door-buster sale.  Not that it’s all been candy canes and sugar plum fairies;  we’ve already had a crazed pepper spray shopping incident and a couple of tramplings at Walmart . . . and I don’t know when I’ve seen more offensive, even hostile driving.  But all-in-all, it’s a wonderful season.

So . . . while you’re picking out just the right tie or bathrobe for someone special, I have a challenge for you:

I double-dog-dare you to also do something ridiculously nice for a stranger and do it anonymously.  Want to kick the holiday spirit up a notch?  Try dropping a little unexpected niceness on a total stranger’s head!  They will be on cloud nine and so will you!

I’ve ‘paid it forward’ like this a few times but my most memorable experience was when I was the recipient of a stranger’s random act of kindness.  I was driving North from San Diego into Orange County for a business meeting.  I was running a little late so opted to take the toll road that runs through the hills above Laguna Beach and Newport Coast.  At the time it cost about $2.50, but when I pulled up to the toll booth, the attendant explained that the person who passed through before me had paid my toll . . . just for the heck of it.  Now, you think maybe I had an awesome day?  You bet I did!  And I bet he or she did, too!

This is coming up tonight because a friend passed on a list of kindness ideas to me. I have no idea who wrote this wonderful list so I can’t give credit;  but I wanted to pass it on to you to stir your thinking.  Which of these would you do?  Or do you have a different plan?  Either way, I’d love to hear from you.  I keep wondering how many more smiles I’d see if  I secretly did something nice for somebody every day  . . . and maybe the idea spread!

  • Send someone a hand-written note of thanks
  • Buy a lottery ticket for a stranger
  • Feed someone else’s parking meter
  • Put some coins in the vending machine with a note to let the next purchaser know
  • Give a compliment about your server to his/her manager
  • Send someone a small gift anonymously
  • Pay for the drinks on the next table at a cafe
  • Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person
  • Have a ‘normal’ conversation with a homeless person
  • Leave a treat for your mailman in the box
  • Send a thank you note to someone who helped you in the past
  • Smile a lot
  • Leave a generous tip
  • Adopt a soldier
  • Be a designated driver
  • Pay the toll for the driver behind you