pay it forward.

when i got to the counter to order my ice cream, i was told that it had already been paid for. i laughed and began to dig for my wallet. “no really, it’s been taken care of. but if you’d like to pay for the next person, we can keep it going.” a couple hours earlier, someone had paid for the person behind them and it had been paid forward all the way to me. you should have seen my face. i mean, i love ice cream, but this was next level elation. even though i ended up spending the same amount as if i’d bought my own, it didn’t matter. there’s something that feels so special and so good about someone being kind for no reason.

it’s not like it’s never happened before. a lovely gentleman once bought extra cookies at a bakery and gave them to my daughters for being “so nice to mom.” someone offered to pump my gas at a self-serve because they were more appropriately dressed for the weather than i was. and one time someone ran to stop me from purchasing a parking pass because they were leaving, and theirs hadn’t expired yet. (a very sweet gesture that i now regularly re-enact.)

being able to recount these examples is a testament to the fact that we always remember the kind things people do for us. and it not only makes the person receiving the generous act feel happy, it’s equally as beneficial to be the one acting out the kindness.

my daughters have a GIVE jar that they deposit their allowance into every third week. (alternating with SAVE and SPEND). at the end of the year, they can choose anyone or anything to give their money to. my youngest decided to gift it to a gentleman we see frequently at a busy corner asking for change. without going into all the details… he cried, i cried, and she stood a little taller after our visit. i walked away realizing how much WE got out of that interaction.

the world feels a bit heavy these days. i’m acutely aware and extra sensitive to aggressive drivers, people cutting into lines and the short and defensive way we talk to one another. some days it feels like the root of who we really are, has disappeared. but did you know that we are actually hardwired to be kind? we were literally born that way. and what’s more… science says it’s good for us. “like exercise, altruism releases endorphins, a phenomenon known as a ‘helper’s high.’”**

committing acts of kindness has a whole roster of benefits. it speaks directly to those warm and fuzzy feelings we love so much, by boosting seratonin and releasing oxytocin. being kind lessens anxiety and stress – when you’re doing something nice for someone else, it reduces the chance that you’re worrying about yourself. it improves your mood and lowers your blood pressure, which can ultimately prevent illness and have us living longer healthier lives. it’s literally good for our hearts!

and if it’s your vibe, it’s totally understandable to want to keep it anonymous, but don’t feel shy to let it be known – it actually has a positive effect on everyone who sees it or knows about it. so it not only boosts their mood, it increases the chances of them doing the same.

winter is long and can be stressful and lonely for lots of people. one small act of kindness could be the thing that makes it slightly easier. and next time you’re thanked for doing something nice, instead of saying “you’re welcome”, answer with “pay it forward.” it takes nothing to start a chain of goodwill and your head and your heart will be eternally grateful.


originally published on

2 replies »

  1. I love this, I’m going to make a conscious effort to do this more often! In fact I started today when leaving the paid parking lot I still had an hour + left on my ticket so I gave it to the family just parking!
    Thanks Jeni for making me aware … xo


    • this makes me so happy! sometimes we forget, because we’re just trying to get through our own day, but those little gestures are so easy to do and they can make a world of difference for someone else. xo.


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