Thursday, March 26, 2015

Don't "Pay It Forward" Instead "Give a Note"

It seems nice, the idea of "paying it forward" - but the real question is what does it mean and is it effective?  This past month my social media has been buzzing with this idea of paying it forward.

In effect this is when someone does something nice for you, and then you move on and do something nice for someone else.  Typically this involves simple chores, money, or noticing someone that needs help.  I completely support this idea of helping one another - but what happens when the chain breaks?  You are obliged only to pay it forward to only one person, right?

Due to this flaw in the idea, I want to suggest something even more simple. A note.  Following, I will detail how you personally can make a huge impact in the life of another and inspire more action than the "pay it forward" movement with just a pen and paper.

The idea behind the note is that anyone is capable of participating - money is not necessary for this responsible action.  Also, it is much better than giving a positive compliment because the recipient can always keep the note to look back on rather than forgetting your words.  The idea is all about helping society - thus it should be able to be applied to everyone.  When it comes down to it, what most everyone wants is to be recognized for what they do, due to this simple human desire I can make a small initiative extremely powerful.  So, take out your pens, find someone that deserves recognition, and deliver the note to them with a smile.  Both of you will feel wonderful afterwards - even if you are strangers.

For my example, I want to talk about the note I gave to the bus driver last year.

I took this bus every day, and each day there were different drivers, some drove more often than others.  I was used to this trip so much that I never even realized how helpful the drivers were until one day I was caught off guard by how friendly one specific driver was.  Each time I entered the bus he gave a nice smile, and a warm welcome.  After a while my friends and I started calling him Super Bus Driver because every time he was driving the bus had an unusually positive atmosphere.  It was at this time I realized I needed to tell this driver how much he impacted my journeys and how he brightened my day - I wanted  him to feel recognized and good for what he does.

My Beautiful Swiss Village Next to the Bus Stop
For me it was necessary to write a note as the driver only spoke French, and my French was incomprehensible at best.  I sat down with a friend who helped me translate my message and with my best writing I scrawled out "Thank you Super Bus Driver - you make my day every time we travel! Keep up the good work".

When I handed the driver the note the very next day he took it, looked a bit confused and then walked away.  The following evening when I got on the bus home, his smile was bigger than ever.  He had read and understood my note.  We both were feeling amazing and this positivity radiated to the other customers as well.  We all got off the bus feeling better than ever.  He was happy for being recognized, and I felt good to express my gratitude, and I'm sure the rest of the customers had no idea why they were happy but they cheerfully walked home as well.

Although this is the end of my story with the bus driver, I hope to find someone else to send a nice message to in the future.  Who knows who it may be;  that is why I always carry a pen and a note. I want to be prepared to recognize someone for their great job.

I hope that all of you can have similar stories where you don't need to go and "pay it forward" with money or services but simply make someone realize their positive impact on your life.  Living in harmony with society is a very important factor when it comes to responsibility.  Understanding the nature of human wants and needs makes you realize how we are just simple creatures. How wonderful could it be if we could all just recognize each others positive qualities?

Lets start the "giving a note" initiative and make people feel wonderful, accepted, and most of all appreciated!


  1. Funny, I just did this last week, for a young man who took my order for lunch. I was so impressed that I wrote him a note and gave it to him on my way out. Great idea.

    1. Rosable,

      I am so glad to hear that you have been able to "pay it forward" simply through kind words. I hope we can all continue so that this can become a regular thank you - instead of simply tipping or just letting a good deed go unnoticed. It feels good to be recognized, all it takes is words.