How to Pay it Forward

By M.W. Whitaker

So many people view being kind and charitable as being grandiose. A corporation gives a million dollars to a 501c3 and they buy themselves a bunch of good, free press. However, there are ways to be good to others that don’t necessarily involve breaking the bank. For example, every now and then, when you have spare change, drop it in a drink machine or a snack machine, and don’t buy anything with it. Don’t stick around for any gratification, just go about your business. The next person who comes along gets a drink or a snack on you. They might pay it forward themselves, and buy something for the next person, or they might keep the change, either way, you’ve spread some good.Someone you love needs financial help? Help them if you can, and don’t lord it over them when you do it. Here’s the kicker about paying it forward, though. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.

Help cheerfully, and what you can do, but don’t let it get to the point where you play the martyr. If you let someone take advantage of you, sooner or later, you will resent them. If you resent them, you will come to view them the way a lot of “charitable” Christian people have viewed others in need: as a burden. When you start feeling that way, stop giving. Why? Because then it isn’t altruism, it is pretty much like a job. The reason altruistic behavior is often so hard to keep up is that people’s egos and emotions overwhelm their compassion.

So remember, it is up to you how you can help people. Give to causes that you believe in, whether or not they are tax-deductible or not. If you can’t help someone with money, help them by listening to them. You might be surprised to find that not everyone wants you to solve their problems. They merely want someone to listen to them.

We all have a finite amount of resources in our lives. So use those resources wisely, and whenever possible find ways to save yourself a bit of good karma in the future. Play it close to the vest, and remember, pay it forward.

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