Pouring it Forward

There seems to be a shift happening.  Can you feel it?  What I consider to be the “Oprah Effect” seems to be taking hold out there.  You know what I am referring to… everyone seems to be looking for that special purpose or that desire to give back and pay it forward, and this purpose has found its way into our communities from coast to coast to coast.  People are stepping back and evaluating their lives and realizing that maybe the Audi in the laneway and the million-dollar home just aren’t giving them that same buzz anymore.  People are reevaluating their priorities — shifting their focus from the big salaries and all the accoutrements that come with the high profile job — and embracing volunteerism, paying it forward and giving back to the community.  People are combining profession with mission, vocation, and passion… finding a sweet spot that pulls all of the pieces together in rewarding and powerful ways.

According to StatsCan, the number of volunteers in Canada is growing at a faster rate than Canada’s population, and 93% of volunteers have said that their primary motivating factor for volunteering was to make a contribution to their community.  Studies have shown that those who do volunteer show an increase in their health and happiness.  It helps combat depression and increases self-confidence… so who wouldn’t want to jump on the bandwagon with payoffs like that?

This trend of paying it forward is also popping up in the drive through lines at Tim Horton’s, where patrons pay for the order for the car behind them.  For very little money you can change the course of someone’s day. How cool is that?  The current record for the continuous number of orders “poured forward” stands at 228 orders at a Winnipeg shop.  Wouldn’t you love to be a part of that?….and who would want to be number 229 in that line up?

The news is littered with similar stories, where tips are left to the hard working waitress at a coffee shop, and anonymous donors step forward to assist families in dire straights.  Volunteering and paying it forward does not have to mean the outlay of cash or time.  Giving back can be the simple act of holding a door or addressing the clerk in a store by the name that is so visibly pinned to their blouse.  Take the time to notice people, make eye contact with people, and smile!  Be the act that changes a bad day into a wow day, because I can tell you that what you put out there in the world comes back to you in unimaginable ways.  By changing someone else’s day, you may just end up changing your own in the process.