I tend to believe in karma — that the positive energy that you put out into the world returns to you in one way or another (often in ways that are unpredictable). I also believe in doing good — not just because it leads to that good karma, but because it’s our inherent responsibility, it’s what makes us human.
That’s why I love the idea of paying it forward. Such simple acts of kindness can change a life in unimaginable ways: hold open a door for someone, wave someone on in traffic, say thank you (and mean it).
You never know when someone will need that helping hand, when your generosity can help them get where they’re going, and how far your appreciation can carry them.
You never know just what a smile can mean.
France 2008. It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years already since that trip, as it still remains so vivid in my mind. I was traveling completely on my own for the first time to a foreign country where I knew no one upon arriving. I was ready; I was excited. I was homesick; I was terrified. Yet all through that journey complete strangers were there to guide me along, to calm those emotions, and to help me see the beauty in this adventure.
An older gentleman refused to take a tip after showing me the taxi line and conversing with the driver about directions to the inn in which I was staying, claiming “c’est de mon coeur.” On the way home again, after missing my flight to Paris due to a train delay, exhausted, weary, and out of tears, I studied the contents of a vending machine only to have the cleaning woman ask me what I was looking for — food or drink? After admitting that I was famished for both, she pulled a packaged sandwich out of her cart and offered it to me.
If I didn’t believe in everyday angels before, I certainly did now.
Safe and sound in the Charles de Gaulle airport the next day, an hour or so before boarding my flight back to Philadelphia, I stood in line to pay for my lunch. Ahead of me, a young Asian man rooted through the coins in his hands, only having enough money for the drink beside his selected sandwich. After I had purchased my own meal, I wandered over to the waiting area and settled in. A moment later, I recognized the young man near me. I barely hesitated.
He didn’t understand English or French, and I didn’t know his language, but we understood each other. I held out a 2 Euro coin and gestured to the cafe. He smiled, nodded, and ran off to buy something to eat.
There are so many instances in our lives where we have the opportunity for kindness, to lift each other up with our actions or our words. We may not be able to donate an entire paycheck to charity or volunteer all of our time to the cause we feel most passionate about, but we can do more in what seems like simple ways to us, but may mean the world to someone else.
When it comes down to it, we have to watch out for each other.
Because when it comes down to it, we only have each other.
But Operation Beautiful by Caitlin Boyle (no relation to Grace, I hear) has such a powerful message that I asked if I could do my own giveaway for you.
Fed up with the negative way in which women have a habit of seeing themselves, Caitlin started a movement — a powerful movement — with one little post-it note that she slapped on the mirror of a public bathroom:
“YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL”
You are. Every single one of you. And that’s why I love the message of this book. You are smart, you are good, you are loved.
And you deserve to be loved.
And you deserve to be reminded of this every single day.
I can only imagine what that first person thought when they saw Caitlin’s post-it note on that bathroom mirror, but the thousands of women who have responded with their own pay-it-forward attitude, their own positive post-it notes and messages of empowerment among the many described in the book, is a testament to this power of positivity.
As my own way of spreading this message, I’m giving away a copy of Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-It Note At A Time by Caitlin Boyle. Simply post a comment below telling your own story of how you pay it forward or how you’ve experienced this transfer of empowerment and positivity. One reader will be selected via a random drawing on Wednesday, August 25.
So get to it and spread the word!
(And be sure to check out the fantastic responses to Grace’s giveaway.)
Congratulations to PositivePresent, recipient of the Operation Beautiful book giveaway!
Thanks to everyone for sharing their own stories and for helping to spread the word.
Bloggers around the web are continuing to pay it forward with giveaways for Operation Beautiful. Check out Elisa’s giveaway for another chance to win!
(Note: recipients are chosen based on a random drawing.)