1That gratitude is the key to prosperity is an undeniable fact of life. Many shows their gratitude by reciprocity, a social norm whereby the recipient of a good deed feels obligated to return the good deed to the giver. However, such practice negates the good effect of the noble gesture because paying it back reduces the act to the level of a mere commodity that could be traded. Also, the benefits of the act become limited only between the parties directly concerned.

Fortunately, a growing new practice in expressing gratitude is fast catching fire in the social world — paying forward. This new means of showing gratitude restores the nobility of doing good deeds to others.  Paying forward, as against the usual practice of paying back, is an expression describing the act of the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.

2The simple mechanic of this practice is asking the beneficiary of the good deed to pass it on to 3 other persons.  These 3 new benefactors are then encouraged to pass on the benefits of the acts done to them to 3 other people.  Although the steps seem simple, the outcome could create a sense of luck and goodwill that can change the world. For one thing, it has a multiplying effect in the society.  The effects of the original good act could grow exponentially in the entire community and beyond.

Instead of the benefits of the act being limited only to those directly concerned, the spirit of generosity touches a wider circle of people and the ripples the initial act has generated, spread far and wide fast.

How is paying forward done? Here are some steps you can take to initiate and spread this noble endeavour:

  • Be on the lookout f1or opportunities to help others. An elderly or disabled neighbour is a good candidate for your noble advocacy; or perhaps that poor guy with his nosed pressed against the restaurant’s window watching diners eat; or assisting someone cross a busy street. There is no shortage of would-be beneficiaries around you, if you would but open your eyes and your heart more widely.
  • Focus on people you hardly know. Do something nice to them especially if you feel they do not have the capability of returning you the favour.
  • Spread the word. When the ones whom you help want to repay you, tell them that you would appreciate it more if they return the deed by doing a good turn to at least 3 other people whom they feel need assistance.  Explain to them your reason for asking them the favour – to spread this noble practice to many.
  • In case you are the recipient of a good deed, thank your beneficiary but make it a point to do acts of kindness to at least three other people in return.

Note that any act of kindness, regardless how insignificant it may seem, can have a big impact in the society and the world we live in. The practice of paying forward will make you aware of every kindness that comes your way which you used to take for granted. It opens many opportunities to show your gratitude and remember: gratitude is the key to happiness and prosperity!