• Wellbeing

How to pay it forward

The following blog has been written by Andy Walton, e-Learning Designer at Bright Horizons.


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work. Rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea” ~ Antione de Saint-Exupery

Spontaneous generosity; good deeds; random acts of kindness; being part of the karma army; everyday heroics. All of these can inspire people, and whilst I don’t know Antione de Saint-Exupery (Wikipedia tells me he was a poet, writer and pioneering aviator. And French. Crazy, huh?), I love his quote. In 2012, in a drive-through restaurant in the USA, a customer randomly paid for the order of the person behind them. This spurred on a chain of 226 people doing the same, giving rise the now-famous phrase ‘pay it forward’

So what’s that got to do with work? Well, whilst the idea of doing a selfless act isn’t new, companies are beginning to see the benefits for employee wellbeing in it. As Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”. Still not convinced? You are cynical today. Okay, here’s seven great reasons* to “spread the love, keep the change.”

  1. It promotes positive psychological brain changes that are associated with happiness.
  2. It gives you a sense of belonging and reduces isolation (and probably reduces stress).
  3. It helps you put things in perspective and gives you a greater world view.
  4. In can improve your confidence, control, happiness and optimism.
  5. The more you do for others, the more you do for yourself. Don’t ever think one act won’t change the world.
  6. Reduces stress (I’ve now looked this up, so I was right).
  7. Engaging in random acts of kindness can help to decrease negative feelings and stabilise your overall health.

How will you pay it forward?


*Source: The Mental Health Foundation.

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