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Enjoy Magazine

Q97 Snapshot: Pay it Forward

01/05/2014 05:44PM ● By Patrick John
By Patrick John

Turning 40 a few months ago didn’t phase me…at first. Friends and family said, “40’s just a number — it’s how you feel inside that counts.” I also heard, “40 isn’t old if you’re a tree” and was urged not to worry because, after all, “40 is the new 30” (even I’d used that one... yikes!).   As a guy, I hadn’t really examined 40 very closely.  Actually, not at all.

And then it happened. I saw this television program that mentioned that your health, fitness and general well-being, along with how you behave, feel, look and treat others in that 40th year, sets the tone for the rest of your life. What? Oh no! I panicked a little…I had already wasted the first four months of being 40 and Lord knows I’m not getting them back. Soul-searching mode was switched on. How can I be healthier, less stressed, happier, less judgmental, more patient, a better husband, kinder to others, etc.?  A few days later, a friend told me how a stranger she had helped years earlier tracked her down after spotting her in a local TV commercial because he wanted to return the favor. He remembered her face and that moment of kindness. She simply told him to pay it forward.  That was it…so simple…yet so full of impact.

I quickly started to realize how easy it is to make someone’s day by doing something for them so basic and kind.  Determined to set my compass in the right direction, I hit the internet for ideas on random acts of kindness and cobbled together a checklist for the remainder of my 40th year. Maybe we could all, regardless of age, do the list together.  Here’s what I have so far:

• Donate blood
• Thank a soldier or veteran for their service
• Pick up trash at a local park/trail
• Smile more
• Foster parent a rescue animal
• Let someone cut in line
• Say “hello” or greet anyone you pass by
• Bring in your neighbors trash bins
• Take someone’s cart in from the parking lot
• Call your mother
• Compliment a stranger
• Invite someone over for dinner
• Volunteer
• Feed someone’s expired meter
• Contact a long-lost friend
• Write a letter to a child
• Hold open a door
• Pay for a stranger’s dinner
• Give a really big tip
• Invite a solo diner to join you/your family for a meal
• Send someone flowers for no reason
• Write a poem for a loved one
• Send more thank-you notes
• Offer to babysit for a friend
• Keep an extra umbrella to give away on a rainy day
• Plant a tree
• Forgive a debt
• Offer to pet sit
• Stop and help someone with car trouble
• Apologize for mistakes
• Leave lottery tickets in random places
• Leave a positive review on a website
• Become a mentor
• Let the other driver have that parking space
• Peruse the wanted section on Craigslist and donate items

This should get me started, and since it’s January, maybe random acts of kindness can be our shared resolution for the new year. I know already that the list gives me a new perspective, and hopefully I’ll gain a shred of wisdom.     

I also discovered a new quote about turning 40 that I’ll fully embrace: "The first 40 years of life give us the text; the next 30 supply the commentary." - Arthur Schopenhauer