Tag Archives: meaningful life

Power of 3 X 3: Paying it Forward a Growing Global Social Movement

Based upon a novel written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Pay It Forward (Simon & Schuster), the Pay It Forward Foundation promotes the global social movement based on a simple plan of action.

The idea upon which the foundation was created is simple: anyone can change the world.

The Pay It Forward Foundation seeks to educate students of its mission and works with teachers on developing strategies of how they too can pay it forward.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is an example of what happens when we follow our inner urges, and how one small thought turned into an action can ripple to make a vast difference in many other people’s lives.

The Pay It Forward Foundation

Image From Pay It Forward FoundationStaffed mostly by volunteers committed to its simple but profound mission, the Pay It Forward Foundation encourages everyone to do a simple act at any time for anyone in any place. Paying it forward means doing a favor for someone without any expectation of being paid back—save for encouraging the recipient of the favor to in turn to pay it forward to someone else.

The idea behind his movement is to never assume a favor you pay is too small or too insignificant, as to someone else it could mean the world. How do you know that this exact opportunity won’t change the life of a complete stranger in ways you can’t even imagine?

Catherine Ryan Hyde, Esteemed Writer and Inspiration

Catherine Ryan Hyde is an established author with several acclaimed books to her name, including Second Hand Heart (Transworld UK) and Jumpstart the World (Knopf). Her short stories have been featured in several prominent literary journals, and many have gone on to win top literary awards.

Her 2000 novel Pay It Forward was developed into a popular movie of the same name, and was acknowledged by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list. The novel appeared on several national bestsellers lists. The message of the book has inspired many people to try paying it forward in their own lives, and serves as the basis for the Pay It Forward Foundation.

Beside writing, Hyde also delivers public speaking addresses, including ones based on her pay it forward idea. The following is a transcript of Hyde candidly discussing her inspiration for paying it forward.

Setting: Echo Park, Late at Night

Catherine Ryan Hyde PictureSo, here I am in this bad section of Echo Park . . . I don’t know, does anyone know Echo Park in Los Angeles? Some of you actually do! And if you don’t, don’t run and check it out, just take my word for it, okay? It’s not really the place to be late at night. However, I lived there, which narrowed my options.

So, I’m driving home, and I should tell you that the car I was driving was not in good condition, because—at least I’m pleased to be able to say that I was young 24 years ago (I know, it’s hard to imagine)—I had this theory about cars when I was younger. I thought it cost less money if you didn’t take your car to the mechanic. It’s a logical theory when you think about it, because mechanics cost money, so you don’t go, you save money, you know? That’s one of those theories that works very well until the day it doesn’t anymore. So this is a story about the day it stopped working.

So, I’m coming home late. I get to the end of the ramp, you know, the freeway ramp where there’s a stop sign at Echo Park Lane. And I put my foot on the brake, and the engine stalled—which may sound unusual to you, but it always did every time I put my foot on the brake. That’s what happens when you don’t go to the mechanic! And then something that had never happened before: headlights, dash lights, all of the electric on my car, out.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

So, now I’m out there in the dark. That’s a new one. And while I’m pondering this, I noticed that there’s a curled smoke—right away you know this is not good news, right? Where ever the smoke is, however the smoke is, right away you’re thinking, “That’s not good news!”—coming through the firewall from the engine side. And it’s curling up under the dashboard, and it’s beginning to fill up the passenger compartment where I sit.

Now, when you’re in a car in a bad neighborhood late at night—you probably know this already—you have a very powerful incentive to stay there with the door locked. But now the car’s filling up with smoke, which has got to be a textbook definition of being between a rock and a hard place. Right? So, once again, just so you don’t have to go out and do your own research, I will tell you the smoke wins. You’re going to get out of the car at that point. So I got out of the car.

Now I’m outdoors in this bad neighborhood late at night. And I looked up and I saw that there were two men, two total strangers, running in my direction very fast. And one of them is holding a blanket.

Strangers Help Out of the Blue

Burning CarMany thoughts danced in my head. Not a single which had anything to do with rescue. As a matter of fact, I think the first thought in my head was that I’d never made out a will. And then of course I realized that it didn’t matter because I had nothing to leave to anyone, anyway. Except the car, which is on fire.

So, I really thought that those were going to be the last few moments of my life. I mean, you’ve had that moment where your life flashes before your eyes. Really, never occurred to me that they might have been running to my aid. But oddly enough, that’s exactly what happened.

Apparently they had been driving by—I say apparently because I never really got to talk to them—saw the trouble that I was in, pulled their own car over to the side of the road, took a blanket out of their own trunk, [and] one of them popped the hood of my car. You know, popped it from the inside—the other one actually opened it. [He] leaned his whole upper body into my flaming engine compartment and put the fire out with the blanket.

Total Strangers Save Lives

Now, just to stop and review what I find important in this story: his upper body, my flaming engine compartment. Isn’t that an interesting combination between total strangers?

So, right around the time he got the fire put out the fire department showed up, which I thought was interesting because none of us called them. Okay, so once again, the kids go, “Okay, so someone had a cell phone and you didn’t know it. “ No, not in 1978, I really don’t think so. Apparently some other good Samaritan driving on the freeway behind us had seen what was happening and called the fire department.

Now, I absolutely guarantee you in that situation I would have done that for a stranger. If I had seen you broken down with your car burning I would have stopped at the next call box and called the fire department for you. Not sure about the thing with the upper body in the flames. I don’t know about now, but at the time I don’t think I would have been ready for that.

Life and Death Situation

And, so, to make a long story short—perhaps it’s too late for that, I’m not sure—in the confusion of talking to the fire department . . . and by the way, one of the things that I learned from them is that we all could have been killed. You know, a car on fire is a lot like a Molotov cocktail, when you think about it. You know, you have a big tank of flammable liquid with a fuse that goes into it, and once it’s burning it’s, you know . . . you have some problems.

So, I turned around to thank these men who I thought were standing behind me listening to all of this, thinking, “Boy, this better be a good thank you!” Right? This was the biggest favor I had ever gotten in my life. This had better be a good thank you . . . and discovered that they had already packed up and driven away.

So, I didn’t even say thank you! I mean, I tried, but I didn’t know they’d do that.

The Birth of Paying it Forward

Pay It Forward MovieAnd so what happened as a result of this, you know, people will say to me, “So, if they hadn’t stopped and done that for you, none of this pay-it-forward-thing ever would have happened.” And I like to take it even a step further and say that if they had stayed around to be thanked, maybe the rest of this wouldn’t have happened. If they’d stayed around, you know, I would have gotten their address. I would have sent them a Christmas card every year for the rest of their life. You know, 24 years later, it’s almost December, I would have sent them a Christmas card and maybe that would have felt like enough.

Pay it Forward BookBut as it was I had received this huge favor and I hadn’t done anything to pay it back. So what was I going to do?

So I found myself—for those of you who know anything about the pay-it-forward concept, you are probably guessing where we are going with this story—I found myself on the lookout for someone in trouble. I thought, “Okay, sooner or later I’ll find someone in trouble and I’ll stop and pay that favor to them instead.”

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Hear Catherine Tell Her Story

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Read 5 star reviews of the > Pay It Forward Movie

Why Do We Have to Work?

Why is it that we get up each morning and go to work? You may be thinking: Wouldn’t life be more enjoyable if we didn’t have a job to go to?

You may perceive the whole purpose of going to your job or work is to pay the bills. But, what if the reason you work at a skill or job isn’t just to earn money, but goes much deeper?

What if you are fulfilling some type of life purpose?

Contribution and The Discovery of Purpose

Working at a job or vocation really is innately tied to a contribution we make while living on earth, and the nudges along the way to discover a deeper inner purpose that is inherent within us.

These two ideals are evident when we examine our natural world, only to discover that everything has its own unique purpose and a place in the grand scheme of things.

Smiling Woman on BeachMankind is no different, really. Perhaps each individual has a unique purpose they are meant to fulfill. It seems when we are actualizing this aspect of our nature we feel more alive and are suffused with a sense of meaning while also feeling in harmony with the world around us.

When we are not deepening this purpose, we can toss and turn through life, sensing a profound lack of meaning and sense of disconnection. For some people, this uneasiness often pervades over their ever-waking moment.

This could make anyone wonder why it is so difficult to our inner calling to essentially identify a compatible vocation or career and actualize this inner purpose. Could the reason for this confusion be that finding and actualizing this deep intent is truly challenging and provides each of us with a continual process to learn along the way about our inherent natures?

Blocks in Creating a Meaningful Livelihood

When we look about we find almost everyone working for somebody else, and many individuals are working in jobs that feel to them like dead ends.

Some people actually look for a rich spouse or someone to take care of them and be responsible for their livelihood.

Or, due to our sometimes parental, financial, and often social conditioning, many seek instead to simply find some type of employment that allows them to meet their basic needs. When motivated by survival an individual may feel justified in working at any trade or job because they are at least productive.

Most often choices like this lead to a nagging inner voice that tells us we’re meant to do or be something else. Anyone who has taken a job purely for financial reasons can relate to this mind chatter that creates an empty feeling. So what’s the answer to this compromise?

Experiencing Life When Pursuing A Purpose

Flowers and Happy WomanCould the answer be discovered laying dormant in our being, just waiting for us to ask the right questions?

When we are passionate this creative state infuses us with energy, vitality, and drive that we lack in our lives otherwise. Most anyone who has a sense of pride or self-awareness knows how much more vital they feel when their hearts are fueled by passion. This primal, but essential, state guides us to our hearts when we can gleam our innate purpose.

Whatever that purpose is for each of us, it is never complicated. When we are pursuing this essential aspect of our nature we find motivational fulfillment and we feel very much alive and a part of our world. Our ability to attract possibility increases. We draw to us more meaningful choices. Our vocation or job ceases to be work and instead becomes an expression of our being. Creative energy moves through us, which is also a direct measurement of our ability to earn, receive, and gain recognition, and personal satisfaction along with other rewards.

Be, Do, Have

This almost sounds like a jingle! We be, we do, and we have.

From this sense of being enthused by inner passion we are assisted to do what enlivens us  and in turn our actions produce material results. Our doing provides sustenance for ourselves along with stimulating personal fulfillment.

By identifying this inner spark we find it easier to work in a vocation or a job that is also our vehicle for creating income to live—that is, unless you were born independently wealthy, or have a rich aunt that leaves you a sizable inheritance.

A Blessing in Disguise

Perhaps one of the very greatest blessing we may identify is our need to survive. It really is a catalyst that can consciously lead us to discover more about our deeper life intent and authentic self expression.

Smiling Group of PeopleThis may be called a law of nature that invites us to explore our inner passion so we may find a path that leads us and helps us discover a fulfilling vocation or career at some point in our life when we make a conscious choice to do so.

Our authentic innate being engages our creative doing, which produces for us having what allows us to thrive.

If you find yourself asking: Why do I have to go to work? Maybe you are side-tracked from asking a more useful question. Perhaps it’s time to invite your mind to ask away so you can connect to your heart to find the seeds of your passion, so you can live your purpose, be, do, have, receive, and contribute in this world full of opportunity.

You just may find opening your heart leads to great fulfillment, personal reward, a job you enjoy, and the life you were destined to live.