The phrase “pay it forward” has been around a long time, having supposedly shown up in print about a century ago. When I was young, my mom used to tell me, “We’ll just pay it forward, honey.”
I’m not sure I understood the concept then.
As demonstrated in a 1999 book written by our friend Catherine Ryan Hyde, the subsequent movie and the movement triggered by both, paying it forward is simple: Someone does something nice for you, then you in turn do something nice for somebody else. If nobody’s done anything unexpectedly considerate for you lately, then you can be the first link in your own kindness chain.
And who knows? Paying it forward might turn into good karma.
While we tend to think of karma in the negative — be a jerk and eventually you’ll regret it when your actions come back to bite you — karma also is in the kindness business.
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