I don’t stop when I see people standing by the side of the road with a cardboard sign explaining their situation.
I give a percentage of my income each year to programs that help the homeless. So I don’t feel guilty about not stopping, but recently I stopped and it was an amazing experience.
As I was leaving the grocery store I noticed a middle-aged African American woman with a sign that said something about starting over. I honestly didn’t read it in my rush to get home.
As I pulled into the street, I also noticed the white rubber bracelet on my wrist with the words “Pay it Forward” on it and immediately decided to try something different.
A few weeks ago, Don Hudson and I had Charley Johnson a volunteer with the Pay it Forward Foundation as a guest on our radio show. He explained since the hit movie in "Pay if Forward" 2000 there has been a movement to encourage the Pay-it-Forward concept using the popular rubber bracelets.
The bracelet reminds the wearer to be on the lookout for someone to help. He believes this reminder makes all the difference because it keeps kindness in the forefront of your mind.
When you do a random act of kindness, you are supposed to pass your bracelet on to that person and encourage them to do the same.
I had been wearing my bracelet for weeks and had yet to find an appropriate person to pass it on to, but this woman touched my heart. I swerved around the parking lot and pulled up next to her.
I presented her with some cash and as she thanked me I quickly added, “Would you do something for me? Find someone else you can do something nice for and Pay it Forward. OK? And when you do something for someone else, pass this bracelet on to them.”
With a huge smile, she said she would do it and was already putting it on as I pulled away. The reason this simple exchange warrants the telling of this story is because of the amazing feeling I had on the ride home.
I can’t remember when I last felt so energized and happy. I felt like laughing. It was the feeling of pure joy and the feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day.
I wonder who benefited most from my random act of kindness.
Johnson believes giving these bracelets to the homeless, who are constantly asking for help, can change their outlook on life because the wearer is automatically more focused on other people. They also get to experience the joy of giving the way I had.
This got me thinking about an incident that happened to me about five years ago when I was a struggling single mom.
I had taken my son to Famous Footwear to look for some shoes, but the pair he wanted was completely out of my price range. I was explaining how I couldn't afford those shoes when a woman approached me and offered to help.
She explained the store was having a buy one, get one half off sale and she was only planning to buy one pair of shoes.
She offered to take my son’s shoes to the register with her and get them for half price. We agreed to meet outside so I could pay her for the now half price shoes. My son was thrilled.
When we met her outside, she refused to take any money from me and said the shoes were a gift. As I tearfully thanked her, she told me to pay it forward to someone else instead.
I have never forgotten that act of kindness.
I am convinced there is great power in this movement. What if 100 people received bracelets today? What if wearing the bracelet reminded them to be a little kinder? Can you imagine the powerful change that could happen in our community?
The Pay it Forward Foundation is looking for businesses, individuals or groups who would be interested in distributing bracelets.
If you have a Pay it Forward story to share, send it to email@example.com
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of LDS Life Coaching and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach who has a popular radio show LIFEadvice on Utah's AM 1430 Saturday Mornings at 8 a.m. MST
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.