December 8, 2020

Defining Pay It Forward: What does it mean?

By B&SC Blog Team

Defining Pay It Forward: What does it mean?

The “pay it forward” movement is not a new concept. According to Wikipedia, it dates all the way back to 317 BC where it was used as a key plot concept for a play in ancient Athens. There are small documented events of the “pay it forward” notion throughout history; however, it became a widely popular concept after the 2000 movie of the same name, which was based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The simplest way to define “pay it forward” is that when someone does something for you, instead of paying that person back directly, you pass it on to another person instead. One of the easiest examples of this is buying a coffee for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop and then they buy a coffee for the person behind them and so on.

What is the point of all this? Why do so many people live their lives according to the “pay it forward” principle? It has been proven that acts of kindness build exponentially in a community and because people believe that one good deed deserves another. “Paying it forward” can make the world a better place. That was what Leah Doperalski thought when she used her nursing skills to help make life better for Jamaicans living in the Blue Mountains. But even if you don’t go to the Blue Mountains, nursing is just one wayto live your life paying it forward.

Paying it forward can be part of anyone’s daily life. Whether you decide to take up a life of service to the community or join the business world, you can incorporate the philosophies of the Pay it Forward Movement into your career. Paying it forward can be rewarding in other ways too. By volunteering to help a manager or a supervisor from another department with a project, you might stay in the back of their mind when an opportunity for a promotion comes up. Even as you build your professional network, people who you’ve paid it forward to will certainly hold you in a higher light than individuals they’ve never met or even have had bad experiences with. So paying it forward can enhance your personal life and your professional life as well.

Have you ever done anything to “pay it forward?” Has anyone ever done a good deed for you? Tell us about it and how it made you feel in the comments below.

Pay it Forward. [Online image] Available, February 26, 2009.
For more information on Pay it Forward from Wikipedia, visit

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