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Giving Thanks — Pass it On!

While Thanksgiving is a time to pause and give thanks (as in thank you for all I have), it is also a great time to GIVE thanks (as in doing something nice for others)!

Think of all the things you say thank you for without even thinking about it during the day: the hot cup of coffee handed through the drive through window, the wave of gratitude to the driver who let you break into traffic, the person walking into the building right before you who held the door open for you, the customer service rep on the phone who helped you find a solution to a problem. We may not stop to think of the small things people do for us, and we probably don't ponder the positive impact these small actions have. But we can sure benefit from turning around and giving acts of kindness back to others.

In 2000 author Catherine Ryan Hyde published a book called “Pay it Forward,” followed by the release of a Warner Brothers movie by the same name, which created a social movement that continues today. The concept behind this movement is that a person does a good deed for someone else and asks only that they "pay it forward" in return for the deed. When the recipient wants to "pay it back", the giver simply instructs them to "pay it forward" — to do a kind act for someone else. The good deeds could be as simple as paying the toll for the person behind you, letting the harried mother with tired children cut in front of you in the checkout line or giving your umbrella to someone less prepared on a rainy day.

Performing random acts of kindness can be fun and contagious. Once you start looking for ways to do something good for others, you start to feel good and want to keep going. And those around you can sense the positive energy and be inspired to do the same. Acts of kindness may feel good, but there are real benefits to being on the giving side. According to Blake Beattie, founder of Pay it Forward Day, these are just some benefits to being generous:

  • Doing good for others can have a powerful, positive effect on the immune system.
  • By contributing towards the greater good, self worth and self esteem improves.
  • It can prevent people from becoming isolated, encouraging them to meet new people and step outside of their comfort zones.
  • Chronic negativity can be dismantled in the mind as positive energy flows from giving to others.
  • Studies have revealed that kindness helps relieve stress, which is a huge problem in many workplaces.

This Thanksgiving, be sure to stop and think about all you have to be thankful for. And be sure to pass that gratitude on to others through a random act of kindness.

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