60 Selfless Ways to Pay It Forward

60 Selfless Ways to Share With the World

Even after all this time,
the sun never says to the earth, “You owe me!”
Look what happens with a love like that,
it lights up the whole sky.

Selflessness is the sincere concern for the well being of others.  It’s about love.  It’s about compassion.  It’s about kindness and faith.  It’s about making a difference in the world.  Sure, you are only one, but you are one.  You cannot do everything, but you can do something.  Smile and enjoy the fact that you have the ability to make a difference – one you’ll likely remember forever.

So go ahead and make the words, “How can I help?” part of your everyday vocabulary.  Start today; choose one of these 60 selfless ways to pay it forward.

  1. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  2. Introduce yourself.  Make new colleagues, classmates, etc. feel welcome.
  3. Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need.  Your old is someone else’s new.
  4. Write a positive Yelp review about a local business you like.
  5. Listen intently to people’s stories without trying to fix everything.
  6. Donate blood.  One pint of blood can save up to three lives.  Locate your nearest blood drive.
  7. Volunteer at a hospital, homeless shelter, nursing home, etc.  Get outside of yourself and help others.  Check out Volunteer Match.
  8. Buy house warming gifts for new neighbors.
  9. Inspire others online.
  10. Share your umbrella with a stranger on a rainy day.
  11. Check up on someone who looks lonely.
  12. Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store.
  13. Spread good news.
  14. Replace what you’ve used.  For example, fill up the copier or printer with paper after you’re done using it or start a fresh batch of coffee.
  15. Give words of encouragement to someone about their dreams, no matter how big or small they are.
  16. Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand.
  17. Help someone get your parking space in a crowded parking lot when you’re leaving.
  18. Babysit for couples or single parents who don’t get out much so they can have some alone time.
  19. Look for ways to save a few extra bucks a month and then donate it to a good cause or charity.
  20. Shop at your local charity thrift store.  The money you spend there helps others.
  21. Help someone get active.  There’s a coworker or acquaintance in your life who wants to get healthy, but needs a helping hand.  Offer to go walking or running together or join a gym together.  Check out your local Active activities.
  22. Spend a few clicks of your time at Free Rice.
  23. If someone you love really likes something (a meal, a favor, etc.) give it to them when they least expect it.
  24. Make a difference in the life of a child. Give them your time and undivided attention.  Read Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference.
  25. If you shop online, make your purchase through Give Back America.
  26. Pay for the person in line behind you.
  27. Drop off your old eye glasses at your local LensCrafters as a donation to the OneSight program.
  28. Create a care package and send it to an active duty military unit.
  29. Redirect gifts.  Instead of having people give you birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a good cause.
  30. The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or in need of assistance, stop and ask how you can help.  Read How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist.
  31. Become a mentor or tutor to someone in need.
  32. Help the weary shopper in front of you who needs that extra two or three cents to avoid breaking a 20-dollar bill.
  33. Come to the rescue.  If you realize someone is sick, bring them some hot tea, soup, etc.
  34. Be a courteous driver.  Let people merge in front of you.
  35. Put some change in an expired parking meter (where its legal).
  36. Offer your seat to someone when there aren’t any left.
  37. Listen to someone’s pain and help them find a path through it.
  38. Hug a friend.  Let them know how important they are.
  39. Think twice before you throw something away.  As Jack Johnson once said, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
  40. Help an entrepreneur with a Kiva donation.
  41. Bake cookies or brownies and share with a neighbor or colleagues.
  42. If you have a good book you’ve read that’s just sitting around on a book shelf, give it away to a friend.
  43. Become a member of Freecycle, and participate.
  44. Clean up litter in a park or open space nearby.
  45. Look into co-housing.
  46. Borrow and lend things in your neighborhood by using Share Some Sugar.
  47. Send a nice email or handwritten card to someone you know, unexpectedly.
  48. Leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places.
  49. If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them.
  50. Setup a donation box at your school, work or place of worship and ask others to make canned/dried food contributions.  Then deliver the donations accordingly.
  51. Join efforts to preserve and protect the environment.
  52. Donate cat and dog food to an animal shelter.  Call and ask what is needed.
  53. Compliment someone who deserves it.
  54. If there’s been an accident or a potentially hazardous situation presents itself on the road, report it to the local authorities.  Your phone call could save a life.
  55. Collect and donate prom dresses for underprivileged youth.  Check out the Princess Project.
  56. When you’re getting fast food, buy an extra meal for a homeless person.
  57. Stand up for someone.  Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them.
  58. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know.
  59. Teach others how to make a difference in this world by setting a good example every day.  Read 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.
  60. When someone wants to repay you for something, ask them to pay it forward.

Photo by: Bart


  1. Dawn says

    This article reminds me of a story I once read of the man and his son walking along a beach. The boy spots a starfish that was stranded in a small pool of water way on shore. He ran over and picked it up. The father asked what he was doing. The boy said he was saving the starfish. The father then said that the boy can’t save them all… but the boy replied that he knew that, but at least he can save that one, as he tossed it back into the ocean…

  2. Taryn says

    I believe in paying it forward when I can! And I do it as often as I can. You never know when you will need to be the one receiving help or just a smile. So when you can share, do so. It is so important to help others even as you help yourself. Because just doing that will make your realize that you can move forward and onward and make a difference.

  3. Ntombi says

    Giving back is not only giving your money, but the knowledge and love will make a huge difference in ones life. I’m really inspired by this list. Thanks.

  4. Cara says

    Thank you, what a wonderful list of ideas! As with any gift, the giver will recieve the greatest joy. I have also found that when I witness someone else taking a turn at spontaneous compassion, I too am a receipent….it can be such a wonderful world!

  5. tonya says

    This is a really good reminder, and i try to help people as much as i can. I just wish more people would do this… so i am going to Share this with my friends online and see what happens…

  6. says

    I am going to print these up and put them on a two-sided laminated business card to carry around with me and look at throughout the day to constantly remind myself to look for opportunities to pay it forward.

    Thanks for this.

  7. says

    NICE! Paying it forward always bring it back to you also.

    I would add: Tell a loved one that you do “love them”

    One day i had errors to run and decided before leaving home that I was going to smile at everyone that I made eye contract with. It turned out to be a wonderful beautiful day. Some smiled back, and some didn’t, but that was OK!
    Thanks again.

  8. says

    Enjoyed this one. I have done a number of these things like numbers 1,3,5,14,15,17,20,34,43 & 47… see I am a good person that pays it forward. :)

  9. Jann55 says

    Absolutely loved the ideas given here. If all the world were this way, we would have a real “Shangra-la” where there would be no wars or other problems. I have to print these off so I can have this list around my house for my family and I to look at often. Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciate it.

  10. Hendry says

    I just want to thank you for this site. It is helping me and a lot of people to be better people and to live better lives. Thanks.

  11. ene okwori says

    I love this article, not just wording but the powerful message to people like me who need to pay it forward more often.

  12. Faith says

    Thank you for this great article! This is my first comment on this site. I have recently discovered this site pretty unintentionally; but I’m truly glad that I did.

    Also, I didn’t know that a site called freerice.com existed. Thank you for adding that to the list; I have donated grain answering 30 questions in a row and will continue to do so in future.

    Thank you so much again; for you let me help others through this post, and also because this site is making me a better person each passing day.

  13. says

    Thank you for this post – such a great list of reminders to be kind to strangers. It’s interesting how doing kind things for others affects our own mental health. As we all know, the connection between mind and body is extremely powerful.

  14. Jerry Hislip says

    What a message if everyone would do just a few of the things that is mentioned in your list,wouldn’t our world be different. Isn’t it nice just being nice!

  15. says

    I have had to share this AGAIN on twitter. Darn…it’s just so good. I actually focus on doing just this – everyday. Amidst the traffic, noise, pollution and general overall rudeness, I am far from there, but I do try to honor those I meet. Love this – again…repeating myself… :-)

  16. Rose says

    Great list. It’s nice to find that I’m already doing some of these, but there were also some suggestions that I haven’t tried. Thanks for posting this list. Blessings to you. ~

  17. Super Grover says

    Marc and Angel, if possible, could you add more to this? Or can people comment more great examples? Thanks. I’ve been truly inspired as a young teenager.

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