Have you ever come across the concept of ‘Paying it Forward’?
This morning, while sitting in one of my favourite cafés in the heart of Melbourne, a young man celebrating his birthday decided to give the owner of the shop $15 and said “Here, I’d like to pay for the coffee for the next 3 people who come up to you”.
Now, I must admit I have long been familiar with the concept of ‘Paying it Forward’, especially after the 2001 drama movie of the same name that tells the story of a young boy Trevor McKinney who for his junior high social studies class creates a plan for literally “paying forward” favours.
It’s an interesting concept … after all can sowing one good seed
that makes a difference in one person’s life capable of making a significant difference?
While some might argue that making small gestures or random acts of kindness has no real impact, the field of science, quantum physics and chaos theory is starting to show that we are all interconnected and woven into a seamless web of consciousness, where even the most subtle and smallest of changes has the capacity to make a greater difference in our lives and the world around us.
The Butterfly Effect
Often considered or known as the Butterfly Effect this aspect of chaos provides the basis for understanding how small changes in our lives and the conditions around us can often lead to even bigger shifts in our environment. In many ways, a butterfly flapping its wings in Texas may have the capacity to directly impact atmospheric conditions in Japan.
So how did the Butterfly Effect and Paying it Forward collide for me in that little coffee shop in Degreaves Lane, Melbourne?
What I Discovered this Morning …
Well, as I sat there I watched in amusement as customer after customer approached the café takeaway window only to be told that some kind hearted 20 year old who was having a birthday had decided to shout them their next coffee … and here’s what I really noticed:
1. It made people instantly feel good about themselves
In a world where there is so much uncertainty, fear and where our humanity can often be questioned, this once act instantly made people feel better about themselves, and the world around them. You could literally see them walk away feeling a sense of ‘wow’. What a kind and heartless thing to do.
2. It created a state of gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful energy that awakens our soul and reminds us who we REALLY are. Random acts of kindness have the ability to awaken this innate longing to be loved and accepted in all of us. One coffee bought in advance for another not only elevate the state of the person receiving it, but also made the barista feel good about himself.
3. It reminded people of what is most important in life
I’ve often said that when we die our lives will be reviewed and evaluated not based on what material possessions we were able to accumulate, or what amount of money we had in our bank accounts.
Instead the most enriching moments will be those where we made a difference in the lives of others. Can you imagine that young 20 year old looking back at his life after passing and reviewing that one moment and the look and feeling on the faces of those people he was able to touch? How magical and empowering.
4. It made a difference
This morning reminded me of the metaphorical story of the young girl on the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean one at a time. When questioned why she was doing it, especially whene there were thousands of starfish stranded on the beach, she promptly replied “Because it made a difference to that one!”.
5. It helped radically shift the frequency and vibration of the people involved
From the barista, to the receiver, to little ol’ me sitting in the corner seat of the cafe, this one gesture of gratitude shifted our lives. After all, here I am blogging about it today 24 hours after witnessing an unconditional act of kindness. We all want to feel good and valued in our lives – paying it forward certainly enables and equips us to do that!
So what’s the take-away?
We don’t have to change the whole world. But we can make a small difference to one person today. We can use our life as a gift of illumination that leaves this world a slightly better place and share our light in a way that significantly impacts others.
This morning, I walked away humbled by the actions of a young 20 year old man … so much that it led to me writing and sharing this blog post!
Next week is my birthday, and you guessed it, I’ll be back to that little coffee shop and be handing over a sum of money to the barista to “pay it forward” in coffee. What a great way to celebrate being alive and having the gift of life. With a bit of luck, it might also become a regular birthday custom.
Try it out yourself. You may not get to see the results like I did today, but one thing is for sure – it will make a difference!