RAOK – Random Acts of Kindness

Published by Julie Anne Byrne on

Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) or as it is also more popular known “Pay it Forward” is actually an ancient tradition and can be found in great literature ranging from Ancient Greek comedies to Benjamin Franklin’s letters.

“In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In today’s world random acts of kindness or paying it forward gestures can have quite an impact on our environment. When we perform these acts not only does the recipient benefit greatly but the donor also benefits in a different sort of way.

The feeling you get as a benefactor is indescribable and priceless. Why not try it for yourself if you have not done so already?

Imagine the chain reaction that could be set in motion if everyone choose to “pay it forward” to at least two recipients who in turn paid it forward to another two recipients. The entire planet would benefit and could be completely transformed for the better. The knock-on effect both recipient and donor would be immense.

Everyone can help to make this happen, there is no skill or special requirements needed, you don’t need to be rich or important you just need to be HUMAN.

What is the Pay it Forward System?

The Pay if Forward system is a concept or an idea of doing a good deed often anonymously (but not necessarily) in order to brighten someone else’s day. There are no set or fast rules, you could be the one to initiate a “pay it forward” avalanche or you could contribute by doing a (random) good deed for a donor, whenever you benefit from someone else’s good deed!

Ways to Pay it Forward

The excitement of paying it forward is such that you do not necessarily need to know the beneficiary. You can perform your good deed for anyone, all the better if they do not expect it. Once on a whim I paid for someone else’s lunch before I left a restaurant by simply sweeping the room and selecting the recipient and asking the waitress to charge me for what they have consumed when I was paying for my own. I felt wonderful afterwards and a bit giddy knowing they would soon realise their lunch had been paid for by the universe!

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you” ~ Princess Diana

I believe that performing a good deed for a stranger is a noble act. It will hopefully remind them that this planet is full of generous and kind people and it will encourage the benefactor to be kinder and more empathetic to others they encounter, a great knock-on effect.

Look out for the opportunities that life provides you with, there are numerous opportunities to Pay it Forward, if you are vigilant.

  • As indicated above be willing to help complete strangers. You may not always have an opportunity to perform good deeds for your close friends or family but there is always someone in need who do you with your help.
  • As quoted above we should give freely without expecting anything in return. Safe in knowledge that you will reap the rewards in the future.
  • If you are ever in the position that someone asks you how they can repay you your act of kindness, introduce them to the concept of Paying it Forward and tell them that you don’t expect anything in return, but that you would greatly appreciate it if they could pay the good deed forward.

There are numerous examples to pay it forward and I have outlined below some of my favourite ones that will not break the bank but will fill your life with oodles of good and positive vibes.

Pay it Forward Examples

  • Clothes Bank or Charity shop donations. Do a clear out of your wardrobe and drop any unwanted items of clothing that are in good condition to your nearest clothes bank or charity shop.
  • Got a birthday coming up? Why not ask those who normally buy you presents to make a donation on your behalf instead to your favourite charity or good cause. You get to be part of something good but without the expense. Win/Win.
  • Spare change, we all have it and it usually weighs down our purse or wallet. Why not throw your spare change into a vending machine, parking ticket meter or a car toll whenever you have an opportunity for the next person in line to benefit.
  • Be a mentor, this can be within your working environment, perhaps some new has started and needs some guidance or needs a friend, or this can be in a sport that you have an interest or experience in, you could volunteer your time to mentor or coach younger people or children.
  • Donate your blood. What better way to help another human by donating your blood and potentially helping to keep someone alive.
  • Donate your time to humans. There are many elderly folk in retirement or nursing homes that have no one who comes to regularly visit them. My mum spent a good number of years in a nursing home before she passed last year and it was heartbreaking to watch so many elderly folk sitting alone with no family to visit. I found on my visits to my mum that my children, her grandchildren were especially welcomed by the residents, often looking to interact with them as we passed by, eager to talk with them or hold their hands, I suspect a human’s touch was very rare to most of these folk outside of the nursing staff.
    • Donate your time to animals. Visit your nearest animal shelter and volunteer your time to take a dog for a walk or spend some time with the animals. I’m sure you will be well-received by those who often work voluntarily in these sanctuaries.
    • Let someone jump the queue, this is a very easy one and can be done almost on a daily basis, when you’re standing in line or at the supermarket checkout, let someone behind you go in front of you.
    • Books, we all have them, most of us adore them but I’ve no doubt we all have ones that we’ve read and are unlikely to ever read again. You could donate these to your local charity shop, second hand bookshop or local library. Alternatively, there is a worldwide community known as BookCrossing which is the act of releasing your unwanted books “into the wild” for a stranger to find. The community is over 1 million strong and is made up of generous book-lovers who are changing the world and touching lives one travelling book at a time!
      • Homeless people. There are so many things you can do for a homeless person, but sometimes it requires on the spot thinking as they often have a tendency to move on, or be moved on quickly. I tend to buy them a coffee/tea and some food if they are sitting outside a shop or café or if they are situated outside a supermarket, I will buy them packets of easy to eat food, often sugary treats, really the opportunities here are limitless.
      • Pay for someone’s coffee/lunch. When buying a coffee, you can easily pay the coffee or tea of the person behind you. What better way to brighten their day and mood!

      Image by John Hain from Pixabay

      Pay it Forward Inspirational Quotes

      “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~ Muhammad Ali

      “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” ~ Maya Angelou

      “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

      “As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

      “If you can’t pay it back, pay it forward.” ~ Catherine Ryan Hyde

      “One can never pay in gratitude: one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

      “Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt

      Track the Butterfly Effect of Kindness

      Butterfly-effect-of-kindnessI came across this wonderful concept which is a sister site to BookCrossing. It really is very simple, yet the effects are profound. Why not check it out for yourself.

      Each Butterfly Coin inspires and tracks the butterfly effect of kindness. By carrying one of these solid brass coins in your pocket or purse, you’re reminded to look for opportunities to help someone, be they friend or stranger. Pass along your coin to them along with your kind deed, and encourage them to pay it forward.


      12 Comments

      Shelley · September 25, 2019 at 11:30 pm

      Hmm! Learning to engage in being a better human is really great and only if all of us as humans can really pay it forward, the world would be so much better as a place take forever. 

      Random act of kindness is the best thing we can do as individuals to others. Just help people and let them help others. Later on, the goodness will come back to us in multiple folds. 

      Thanks for this post

        Julie Anne Byrne · September 26, 2019 at 12:03 pm

        Hi Shelley thanks for your comment, I agree if you do good for someone the universe finds a way to return the good deed two-fold.  

      John · September 25, 2019 at 11:31 pm

      I love giving a whole lot. There’s a tingle I feel in my belly whenever I give to someone but I have never done the pay it forward before. I only give to people who know me and that know me. 

      I cannot explain what kind of excitement I feel knowing that I can do this random act of kindness. 

      Thank you for adding ways that I can actually make these acts. I will give it a go. Thanks again.

        Julie Anne Byrne · September 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm

        Hi John

        Thanks for your comments, it’s really the best feeling in the world to help another human! 

        RAOK is something we can practice every day – perhaps challenge ourselves to practice everyday, what a wonderful world we would live in…

        All the best, Julie Anne 

      Chloe · September 25, 2019 at 11:34 pm

      This is a really nice idea I must confess. 

      I am personally interested in this as it involves helping others. I grew up in a rural area where I have seen people suffer and would do anything within my power to help them out. 

      I’ll inform the few NGO’s that I know of. Best regards.

        Julie Anne Byrne · September 26, 2019 at 12:08 pm

        Thanks Chloe for your comments, happy for these ideas to be spread near and wide, to the ultimate benefit of mankind 😉

      Jordan Smith · September 25, 2019 at 11:36 pm

      I must confess, I really enjoy posts like this. I love little acts of kindness, you never can tell how long it will go for someone you are showing it to. 

      I tend to stick to smiling at someone in the street, because I feel like it’s something small but can also be a meaningful thing to someone who doesn’t see many people! 

      Thank you for sharing a post like this, I really enjoyed reading it and getting more ideas of random acts of kindness!!

        Julie Anne Byrne · September 26, 2019 at 12:18 pm

        Hi Jordan

        Great idea, smiling is a fantastic free way to be kind! 

        I especially love that poem by Spike Milligan “Smile”

        “Smiling is infectious, you can catch it like the flu.

        When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling, too.

        I passed it round the corner, and someone saw me grin

        When he smiled, I realised, I’d passed it on to him.

        I thought about the smile and realised its worth.

        A single smile like mine, could travel round the earth.

        If you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.

        Let’s start an explosion quick – and get the world infected.”

        Glad you enjoyed my post and thanks for your comments. Regards, Julie Anne  

      Nuttanee · September 26, 2019 at 12:06 am

      Your post reminds me of the movie “Pay it forward”, it is one of my favorite movies. As a Buddhist we also believe in paying it forward as well, good karma and bad karma. 

      I cannot wait to witness the butterfly effects of pay it forward the world will be in such an awesome place. I do adopt some animal from the shelters and also sponsor a child 🙂

        Julie Anne Byrne · September 26, 2019 at 12:20 pm

        Thanks Nuttanee I think the butterfly effect is a really lovely idea…I’ll be watching out for the coins 😉

      Sandra · October 22, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      I love this article and absolutely adore the idea of the coin! Brilliant!

        Julie Anne Byrne · October 22, 2019 at 9:26 pm

        Thanks Sandra delighted you like my article. Do let me know if you ever come across a brass coin 😉

        All the best, Julie Anne

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