In 1784 Benjamin Franklin was sufficiently moved by a letter he received from his friend Benjamin Webb to lend the man money. However, the loan came with an unusual condition.
Franklin asked that when Webb could afford to repay him, he should not do so.
He must, instead, lend the same amount of money to someone else in distress, with the same strings attached.
“This is a trick of mine,” explained Franklin, “for doing a deal of good with a little money.”
Nice trick Mr Franklin. Very nice.
In fact the rather lovely idea of “paying it forward” dates back to a play written by the ancient Greek, Dyskolos, and also formed the basis of a 2000 book and movie “Pay It Forward”, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment, in which the story was that one should do three good deeds to others in return for every one good deed received.
There’s even an international Pay It Forward Day on April 30th.
But why wait, I say?
Doing things for others is a great way to feel good yourself, as well as giving a lift to those you help.
So why not look for chances to do a good deed for someone else today? And if they thank you, simply request that they “please pay it forward”.
What an idea. Imagine if everyone went around doing this.