Pay It Forward

Chelsea - San Diego, California
Entered on May 1, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in taking the time to do something nice for perfect strangers. It takes very little effort to let someone cut in front of me on the freeway, or hold the door open for someone walking in behind me, or even to simply smile and say hello to someone I have never seen before.

This idea of “pay it forward”, which is one that requires minimal effort on my behalf, is very contagious. I believe that the extra minute of my day spent on someone else has the potential to have a profoundly positive effect. I do something nice for them, they do something nice for someone else, and next thing you know a long chain of people have been shown such compassion.

A fellow student in one my classes sent out an email to everyone in the class providing us all with a study guide for an upcoming exam. This student said in his email, “I am sending the study guide to everyone as my own personal choice. Now that I have done something nice for you all, I’m hoping that with the time I have saved you everyone will stop and do something nice for someone you too have never met.” This intrigued me, so I drove up to McDonald’s, bought four separate meals to go, and delivered them to four random homeless people in my neighborhood. Each one of them was so thankful that a complete stranger had taken their own time and money to lend a helping hand. The gratitude in their eyes was all the incentive I needed.

I believe that they joy of putting a smile on someone else’s face makes it all worth it. After all, there is no greater feeling than that of making someone happy. Especially someone who could have been having a bad day. By doing something so small yet thoughtful, I could start a chain of positive effects.

Now, I can only hope that those four people were touched enough to pass along the favor and help someone they didn’t know. If not, I do know one thing: it took only fifteen minutes of my day to touch the lives of four perfect strangers.