Pay it Forward: Break free of the cycle of selfishness


“Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal,” a quote by Steve Maraboli.

About a year ago, I was in a discussion regarding misconceptions about college students, particularly self-misconceptions.

A lot of great ideas were shared, but I only remember mine.

Ignore the possible egotistical connotations of that statement because the reason that I cannot forget it is because it was so convincing.

My response: “A common misconception is that college students are poor.” Trust me, this excuse creeps into my life all of the time.

It is there when I pass by student groups collecting donations in the CUB.

It is there when the Giant cashier asks if I would like to donate a dollar to a charity that will get a bright paper shoe with my signature taped to the wall and it is there when I go to buy my textbooks or make a car payment or pay my taxes.

However, that excuse is very rarely present when I go out to dinner with friends.
(Though, I can admit to ordering free water).

It is rarely there when I feel like grabbing a candy bar while I wait in the too-slow check-out line. It is rarely there when that new album is released or that new book is published or that new video game hits the store shelves.

I do not think that American college students are poor.

I think that we, myself definitely included, often choose to be selfish.

Please do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with spending money and time on the things that you love. And, I understand that, at times, your bank account may honestly drop to zero.
I have been there.

But, I have also been in places in which I have had the opportunity to use the abundance that I have been blessed with to pay it forward to someone else.

These are powerful and significant moments. What I love about Maraboli’s quotation is that he urges us to move beyond another misconception.

Our society seems to have morphed into an ideology of money-solves-all-problems.
Thus, good deeds are often limited to pulling out a wallet to drop spare change in a bucket or mailing a check halfway across the world.

Stay with me: These are good things.

Yet, Maraboli encourages us to give ourselves to those around us.

Material donations are always helpful, but we engage in a deeper service when we invest our time, our passion, and our hearts. So, this week I have two challenges for you: Take a serious look at your material blessings.

Are you poor or are you rich with the potential for generosity?

Pursue commitment in your every act of service. Make it meaningful for both you and the person that you are serving.

You have the power and the opportunity to affect life-changing moments.
Be bold; move beyond the excuses.


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