Be the Change You Want to See in the World – Mahatma Ghandi
Today is the global celebration of Pay It Forward, making it the official day the entire world is encouraged to pass on random acts of kindness in hopes of creating a ripple effect of positivity, good deeds and connection. The founders of the movement believe that this is the best way to bring about world peace and inspire a generation of givers… How can you not agree with that!?
After a horrific week of tragic events, it is easy to lose faith in humankind when all we are hearing is one horror after another… It is even easier to just sit back and do nothing when the problem feels so much larger than us. Whether its a natural disaster or preventable act, all I’m left with is discouraging thoughts like, “How can I create change that is so desperately needed when every time I turn on the news something else extremely tragic has taken place?” Or “The problem is just too big. No gesture, big or small, can really make a difference, can it?”
I know these thoughts may sound ridiculous, but they are honest thoughts that I do have. I often describe my helpless feelings as “empathy overload” because my empathetic response and ability to feel the intensity of others emotions sometimes paralyzes me from acting… Am I alone here!? Probably not.
Over the years, research has shown that increased exposure to negative life events through the media is correlated with increased feelings of helplessness and ultimately, hopelessness. These researchers have substantiated that when we watch, read or hear about a multitude of tragic events, or are subjected to constant discussion about traumatic events we can develop feelings that we are incapable of making a difference. Ultimately, leaving us with a greater risk of falling into feelings of helplessness that paralyze us with hopelessness and disable us from taking action, even in the smallest and most simple of ways.
This phenomenon referred to as, “learned helplessness,” is developed over time after repeated exposure to events that are out of our control and can create an expectation that unpleasant experiences are unavoidable, therefore we fail to respond even though there maybe opportunities to do so. In my opinion, complacency, often the result of helplessness, is one of the worst possible outcomes. The idea that we are incapable of making change is devastating and needs serious attention before it is too late.
Our need for positive news and inspirational stories is extremely important for our overall health personally and as a society. If the media isn’t providing it, what do we do or how do we create it?
Fortunately, other research does find that participating in any act of kindness, no matter how big or how small, produces a sense of hope and resilience, even when the act is unrelated to negative events portrayed through the media. In addition, charitable giving has been shown to result in higher self-esteem, a more positive outlook on one’s personal life, it produces the “feel good” hormone oxytocin and increase feelings of being needed, valued and important.
Not only that but, volunteering, donating and reaching out to others in need reminds us of our blessings and helps us feel wealthier, healthier and happier. Now that’s more like it! Continuing to engage in activities, actions, organizations or movements focused on positivity, instilling hope and sharing love will in fact, impact who we are and how we see our world. Change starts within us; if we want to see a difference in our world we have to begin with ourselves first.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Ghandi(photo by : Christi Minter)
There is no doubt that experiencing any act of kindness positively affects us. It could be the random stranger in the Starbucks line before us who pays for our double espresso latte or being lent a helping hand when we’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, doing things for another without the expectation of anything in return is contagious. Once we’ve experienced it, it’s hard not to share it with someone else, hence the impactful ripple effect (hence, the ripple effect).
This is what the Pay It Forward Foundation, inspired by the bestselling and award winning novel, Pay It Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, has sought to create across the globe since November 2011. Their mission is simple, to inspire people to Pay It Forward with acts of kindness and create the world’s largest ripple effect of good deeds.
Last year on Pay It Forward Day, more than 52 countries participated on a global scale. This year (today) Pay It Forward Day is aiming to inspire over 5 million acts of kindness around the world! How amazing would it be if we, as a community at DEFINE, were a part of this global movement inspiring others to graciously and generously give of themselves for the betterment of mankind?
Here at DEFINE, giving back is not just about hosting charity rides or classes, its about creating a lifestyle that seeks to generously give to others what we have been given. Hosting events to highlight specific charitable organizations is just a small portion of what is brewing behind the scenes for the next phase of development. It all starts with the desire to take what inspires us and what we have learned to reach out and share it with those in need.
How can you contribute to selfless giving today? In case you’re looking for a creative way to help others around you, check out my list of inspiration below and be sure to leave a comment or tag #DEFINEpaysitforward on Instagram or Facebook to participate with us to Pay It Forward! No act of kindness is too small or too insignificant!
Take Action! – Ideas to Pay It Forward
– Deliver baked goods to your neighbors
– Pick up another persons tab while in line at Starbucks or another food or beverage establishment
– Surprise a friend in need with their favorite food or just spend time together
– Donate your professional services to someone in need
– Listen intently to someone
– Donate blood – one pint of blood can save 3 lives
– Check on someone who looks lonely
– Share something inspirational online
– Give words of encouragement
– Be a courteous driver
– Donate used clothing or other items, your used is someone else’s new
– Create a care package and send it to an active duty military unit
– Donate to the victims in West, TX through this website: www.pointwestbank.com
– Give hugs. We all need more moments of feeling them embrace of another.
– Smile… You never know who needs it
– Buy a homeless person a meal or deliver them a care package of essentials like sunscreen, baby wipes, snacks, water, etc.
– Host a Noonday Collections Party – every purchase gives back to the artisan struggling for a better future
– Pay for a friend to come take a DEFINE class or leave a credit on their account
– Spend time with a senior citizen living alone
– Inspire someone to be the best they can be
– Compliment a stranger
– And so many more…
If you need a boost check out this video that went viral last week and feel inspired by these random moments of kindness and heartfelt emotion that were caught on hidden cameras all over the world. Sometimes security cameras catch something totally different
Do you have an inspirational story of a random act of kindness? Tell us about it and what you did to Pay It Forward by leaving a comment below.
DEFINE’s Emotional Wellness Expert, Jessica Pass, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Instructor at DEFINE body & mind. She has a private practice in Houston, Texas, specializing with children, adolescents, individuals, couples and parents. Jessica’s approach incorporates mind-body integration, education and practical strategies to improve emotional wellness, emphasizing all aspects of who we are to live fully and thrive in our relationships.
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