It’s not a new concept, really it’s a rather old one, but I think it is one that we need to be reminded of on occasion.
It’s the concept of paying it forward. The idea that when someone does something nice or helpful for you, you pay it forward for doing something nice of helpful for someone else when you have the opportunity.
I think far too often we get wrapped up in our own world’s. Consumed by our own struggles or sometimes our successes, we often forget about the others around us and what we can do to make their days, or potentially lives a little bit brighter.
Paying it forward does not always require a grand gesture, it can be the simplest of things that work to improve the current or future state of an another individual.
When I am in a position to pay it forward, I always try to. That is just who I am; I take the opportunity to help others where I can or do something to brighten someone else’s day.
I believe that helping others, or being open to others is contagious, as long as you let it be.
A number of people have helped me get to where I am today. Who knows where I would be today without the actions of others. Since I had those helpful people in my life, I make an effort to be that person for others, because we all need people like that in our lives.
People who are willing to give someone a chance. People who will go out on a limb for someone who they barely know, for next to no reason. People who take the time to care and to take an interest. People who take the time to be thoughtful and kind.
We all struggle sometimes in our lives and it’s the positive actions of others that help us to endure and come out the other side even stronger.
I believe that is our responsibility to pay it forward when we are able to. I know that it is sometimes easier to only focus on your own life, but the smallest of kind actions can alter the course of someone else’s life.
Who knows, maybe smile can save someone’s life. Have you ever had a day where everything seems to go wrong, and the entire day you are gritting your teeth? Sometimes, if you let it, the smile of someone you cross on the street can turn your whole day around. I met this guy recently who has this incredibly infectious smile. I love seeing him smile, no matter how bad a day I’ve had, his smile can make me smile. And I’m not even sure it’s his smile that makes me smile, but the fact that his smile remind me of my best friend, whose smile and a hug got me through several days of the hardest year of my life. I wouldn’t go as far to say that that smile saved my life, because my life was not in jeopardy, but that smile made a lot of dark days a lot brighter.
An open mind or a willingness to listen or help also has a huge impact. It’s human nature to want to know that people care. I know when I was job hunting, at times it felt like this entire community was against me, I could not catch a break. The days when I had people give me a chance, or present me with opportunities were bright days. It is an unbelievable feeling when you find someone who is willing to invest in you. Whether it is backing you in your projects, or simply taking the time to talk to you and take interest, having someone show you that they care, is an incredible boost for anyone feeling unheard, unseen and uncared for.
I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the years. While what I’ve been through has been difficult and at times heart breaking, I know that there others out there struggling with the same things, or things much worse. Because I know that and because I know how I felt with others reached out to me, I make an effort to reach out to others.
I was the newbie in the office three weeks ago, and I was welcomed in and have, I think, developed a decent friendship with the previous newbie. When I was quickly replaced with yet another newbie, I made sure that I made the effort to make her feel as welcomed as I did.
As anyone who has followed this blog knows, I struggled finding a job. Because I struggled and because there were bright spots in that struggle, I make an effort to help others gets through the struggle. I administer an alumni group for my college program. Hopefully some day our alumni group will be a great resource, with people sharing their thoughts, ideas and insights. As we work towards creating that I make an effort to help others who are in the position that I was make it through. I post job opportunities, networking opportunities. I talk to them and listen to them when given the opportunity. It goes beyond my alumni group though, I try to help anyone I know who is struggle with job hunting, because I know that job hunting has the potential to break someone, if they let it.
*And a note to any of those people reading this, keep your head up, keep positive, keep active. Stay involved, stay connected and continue to utilize and improve upon your skills!
I know that sometimes it is easier to approach life with blinders on; to only focus on your own life, but I ask that you take some time to look at the world around you and see ways that you can brighten someone else’s day.
Simple things that can work:
Smile at someone! It’s simple, but can be the little thing to change someone’s day, and in turn change someone else’s and so on and so forth.
Get someone a treat! It can be someone you know, or a total stranger. Pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you every now and then. You’d be amazed how good that can make someone feel!
Talk to someone you don’t know! Networking events for some of us can be horribly awkward. So if you’re someone who is at ease with networking, or even if you are not, find that person who is standing alone, against a wall, looking slightly horrified and strike up a conversation. It makes no sense, given my chosen profession, but networking makes me a bit easy. I am not comfortable in a room where I don’t really know anyone. I was at a networking even last month and really did not know anyone there and someone I had met once, struck up a conversation and stuck with me most of the night. It was something small, but something I greatly appreciated.
Give back or pay it forward in whatever way you can. It doesn’t have to be big, or time-consuming, it can be something but simple, but do it, because kindness is contagious. When people do something nice for someone else, both parties feel better (usually) and when people feel good and are happy, they are more likely to do something for someone else.
So if someone has done something nice for you this week, or what the heck ever, take the time to do something for someone else. Someone you know, someone you don’t, it doesn’t matter.
And now that my eyes will no longer stay open and I’m pretty sure I’ve rambled on, I am going to call it a night! Thanks for reading!