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Paying it Forward

Paying it ForwardA while back I wrote about a parking ramp attendant who offered me an act of kindness at a time that I really needed one.

Recently, I was the recipient of another one.

After running some errands, I took myself to one of my favorite restaurants in town. Typically, I got stuffed in a back corner, which I guess is because single people are perceived to be pathetic and thus bad for business.

When I went to pay, the waitress informed me that a couple who had come in to pick up their takeout paid on my behalf.

I almost burst into tears. Talk about a random act of kindness! Those people had no idea what they’d done for me.

I have a psychologist friend whose mission in life (at least when it comes to me) is trying to get me to write a daily gratitude list. The idea is that if you get down on paper, every day, a few things you’re grateful for, more good will come to pass in your life. He calls this “corrective karma.”

My karma’s been pretty lousy lately:

  • I recently wrapped up another hospitalization — a week inpatient and two weeks in an outpatient, half-day program. I’m better, but I’m still struggling with some aspects of my mental health.
  • I’m freaked out over the impending tax deadline because I have a couple really big issues this year that could cost me way more than I have.
  • My 8-year-old car is starting to fall apart, and, again, I don’t have the money to fix it. (I suppose they could all turn out to be cheap problems, but I can’t afford the mechanic.)
  • A medical type I like and trust is going to be leaving soon, and I don’t know what his replacement will be like.

In short, all the little stressors of life (and some of the big ones) are adding up. So for two complete strangers to do something generous for someone who’s struggling totally made my day.

There was a movie called “Pay It Forward” that came out in 2000. The premise, as put forth by a junior high student for an assignment, is that the recipient of a good deed then does three good deeds for others, rather than simply paying back the original favor.

Since I never even laid eyes on these people and wouldn’t know them if I ran into them on the street, I won’t be able to pay them back. But I’m thinking about what I can do for others. Since I’m a writer, thank-you notes to certain people (such as my doctor who’s leaving) might be in order. I had to stop at the pet store this afternoon, and bought a toy for a shelter cat. They’re little things, but I hope they’ll suffice.

I know, at least, that I’ll be rethinking my opinion of people in general. Maybe if I stop believing they’re all jerks, my karma will continue to change for the better. And maybe if I learn to get out of my head and do things for others, that will help too.

What will you commit to doing to pay it forward?

Paying it Forward

Candy Czernicki

Veteran journalist Candy Czernicki is senior editor of Psych Central. She can be reached at

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APA Reference
Czernicki, C. (2018). Paying it Forward. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 31 Mar 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.