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The Power of Actions: Ideas for “Paying It Forward”

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Bills pile up, arguments brew among family members, and jobs keep demanding more for less with each coming year: with so much chaos and turmoil in our daily lives, it’s hard sometimes to remember the bright and beautiful in this world. It’s hard to be thankful when someone holds a door open for you or to pause a moment and apologize when you bump into someone in the grocery store. Those moments, however, can make all the difference for both yourself and the strange at the other end of the event.

When we take a moment to appreciate others with our actions and words we not only brighten our own day, but theirs as well. Realizing how easily we can bring a little bit of sunshine into a dreary world is a very empowering feeling, a feeling of “paying it forward;” hoping your kind deeds inspire even more. Here are a list of easy, everyday actions that you can take to help pay if forward for those around you.

Give a much deserved thank you and expression of gratitude to an unsung hero are your place of work. Think about the different individuals that make your life more easy and your job doable at work, whether the receptionist, mail clerk, or door man. Show your appreciation by giving flowers or chocolates to your unsung hero with a smile and word of thanks.

Make a strangers morning through a cup of coffee on you. The next time you’re on line at your favorite coffee or breakfast chain, pay for the person behind you too. One even better, if you’re paying for your order at a drive-thru window, pick up the tab for the car behind you. Have the cashier tell them that their order just costs a smile and to have a great day.

When you have a little wiggle room in your budget splurge a little and buy as much baby food and diapers as you can afford. Once you’re done bring them directly over to your local church or food bank. Even with so many extra people in need after Hurricane Sandy, baby food and diapers are still the most needed items in most food pantries.

After a great meal at a restaurant make sure to let your wait staff know how you feel. This may seem simple enough, but far too often our wait-staff, bus-staff, and cooks only hear about our meals when we have something to complain about. Make your server’s day by letting them know how wonderful they've made yours. Leave a little extra tip, and even go so far as to commend the manager on duty.

On the days when lottery jackpots seem astronomically high buy a couple extra tickets to share with strangers in proximity. Often people won’t play the lottery because they feel that they’re just not lucky. Show them differently by offering them a ticket and a “good luck.” It doesn't matter whether the individuals win or lose with their tickets: what matters is that you took a chance for them.

If you have a local area where a police patrol car usually sits (such as specific parking lots or fire stations, not highways!) take a chance and bring them a cup of coffee. A good cup of black coffee, with a couple sugars and creamers on the side, is a great thank you to an individual who spends his/her day making your community a safer place.

Spend a little time with an elderly individual in need of company. There are volunteer groups available, or maybe you’re familiar with a local nursing home facility; spend a little of your extra time bringing smiles to individuals who could use a little extra attention or listening ear. It’s important to remember that not everyone is lucky enough to have family, so adoptive friends and family is always a blessing.

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