Article image

Quotes To Inspire You To Pay It Forward

A little bit of unexpected kindness can go a long way amid the bustle of a busy day or the stress of a difficult time. Odds are, we’ve all been the recipient of at least one random act of kindness, whether from a close friend or a complete stranger.

Our gratitude for those kindnesses might prompt us to pass it on, in one way or another. For example, in 2020, more than 900 cars at a Minnesota drive-thru took part in what’s referred to as a pay-it-forward chain, in which each customer pays for the order of the car behind them. Studies have shown that even children as young as 4 years old get the urge to pass on the kindnesses they’re shown.

One may wonder why we don’t just directly repay the person who initially showed us generosity. It’s totally reasonable and warranted to show our gratitude to that person, but science shows that paying it forward can cause a ripple effect of positive actions.

For one, it’s likely that paying it forward will inspire the people we help to help others in turn — making a bigger impact than a pair of favorable actions between two people. It also helps strengthen our ties to other people, decreasing our risks of anxiety and depression. The bottom line here is that being kind to others is good for our own well-being and the well-being of those around us.

To inspire you, we’ve gathered 11 quotes about the value of paying forward the goodwill shown to us. You never know the positive impact your choices may have on someone else’s life!

I have a theory about the assists we get in life. Only rarely can we repay those people who helped us, but we can pass that help along to others.
Lucille Ball

Share Quote

Have you had a kindness shown? / Pass it on; / 'Twas not given for thee alone, / Pass it on.
Henry Burton

Share Quote

Try to be kind, because there is such a lack of kindness everywhere, and if you could generate just a little, it would mean everything to someone else. You may never know how much it would help … Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.
Margaret Cho

Share Quote

It’s important in this world we’re living in now, to give back. We can’t forget about the people who live in it. How can we make it a better world?
Paula Patton

Share Quote

Learning to pay it forward can add a tremendous sense of meaning and dignity to our lives. Simply put, it feels good to give to others, whether we get back or not.
Greg Epstein

Share Quote

Here’s what I want you to do. Do a very big favor for three people … And when they try to pay you back, tell them instead to pay it forward. Give your time, if you have to, or your compassion.
Catherine Ryan Hyde

Share Quote

I always liked telling my students: “Go out and do for others what somebody did for you.”
Randy Pausch

Share Quote

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at least one which makes the heart run over.
Ray Bradbury

Share Quote

Every small, unselfish action nudges the world into a better path. An accumulation of small acts can change the world.
Robin Hobb

Share Quote

Friendships … are built of a thousand small kindnesses … swapped back and forth and over again.
Michelle Obama

Share Quote

One can never pay in gratitude, one can only pay “in kind” somewhere else in life.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Share Quote

Featured image credit: Thinglass/ Shutterstock

Author image
About the Author
Paola Bennet
Paola Bennet is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She writes a fortnightly newsletter that treasures the mundane, called Small Histories. Find her on Instagram @paolafbennet.
Play more header background
Play more icon
Daily Question
What poet wrote, "Merge mercy with might, and might with right"?

More Inspiration

happiness theme icon

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.

separator icon
Mark Twain
motivation theme icon

The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.

separator icon
Paulo Coelho
hope theme icon

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty, if your cup is full may it be again.

separator icon
Robert Hunter
love theme icon

The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

separator icon
eden ahbez
wisdom theme icon

Only the curious have something to find.

separator icon
Sean Watkins
happiness theme icon

In a time of destruction, create something.

separator icon
Maxine Hong Kingston
motivation theme icon

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

separator icon
Walt Disney
hope theme icon

Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.

separator icon
Stephen King
love theme icon

I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.

separator icon
Robert Harling
wisdom theme icon

Happiness is a simple, frugal heart.

separator icon
Nikos Kazantzakis
happiness theme icon

However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

separator icon
Stanley Kubrick