Pay It Forward – Where Did This Idea Come From Anyway?

As much as we would love to take credit for coming up with the Pay It Forward idea, we are pretty sure that most of you would not believe us.  We know that it is not something new and that it really doesn’t take much to help make someone’s day better.  But where did this idea come from anyway?  We do need to give credit where credit is due and after doing a bit of research, we would like to take you on a bit of a history lesson to give you some of the background regarding this philosophy.

The concept of Pay It Forward can be traced all the way back to a prizewinning play that was first written and performed in ancient Athens in 317 BC.  It was called Dyskolos which translated means The Grouch.  Since that time there have been numerous others such as Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Woody Hayes who have been quoted using the idea through their writings, teachings or coaching.  Most of these references were made regarding the idea of money and lending of funds to be paid forward rather than being paid back.  Several novelists over time have also chosen to utilize this concept fully or in partial fulfillment as a storyline with the main characters feeling that they needed to make a difference for someone else.

The most well know of the novels published in 1999 and then put on the big screen in 2000, was called Pay It Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  The film stars Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment.  Ryan Hyde describes the Pay It Forward concept as an obligation to do three good deeds for others in response to a good deed that one receives. Such good deeds should accomplish things that the other person cannot accomplish on their own. In this way, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically through society, at a ratio of three to one, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place.

For those of you who have seen the movie it is an idea that truly is not rocket science but one that can spark light in the human spirit to make a difference for others in this world.  The following YouTube clip captures what the Pay It Forward philosophy is all about and how it was popularized in the movie.  For those of you who are teachers . . . this may very well be the great catch for an assignment to work through with your students.  We hope that it may prove to be inspiration to some of you to begin to Pay It Forward today.

So . . . is a utopian world really so far out of reach?

Canora Junior Elementary School didn’t seem to think that it was a difficult challenge to begin.  In fact, this is how the idea of Pay It Forward really took control of our family as it was something that Chase wanted to work toward since he learned about it in school and came home with his first card to use.  So if a group of elementary school children thinks that a perfect world is not that far out of reach . . . who are we to question?

Margaret Mead once said, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. In fact, it is the only way it ever has.” Each of those small groups had one person who inspired them.  Will you be the inspiration for others today?

Chase Made A Difference . . . What Will You Do?


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