Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Little Reminder to Pay It Forward!

When was the last time you paid it forward?

While I live my life with an attitude of gratitude and I often find ways to pay it forward, I recently had an amazing adventure in paying it forward and reminder of how rewarding it can be for the giver!

I was in Oregon for a wedding of my two really dear friends, Ben and Jamie. One of the nights, a couple of us decided to drive somewhere separate to get a bite to eat, yet when we got to the restaurant it wasn't really what we wanted. So we left!

On the way back to the wine bar where we would be meeting up with the others that evening...our friend Phil said, "Let's each do a dare." We then each had to come up with a dare for the person who's turn it was and they would pick which dare they wanted to do.

The first dare was our friend Zach. He had to walk into a bar and buy a shot for someone at the bar. We got a lot of funny looks as a bunch of young lively hipsters walking into this rural local shady bar. We walked in nervously wondering how he would pull it off. But fortunately as we walked in someone at the bar said, "Hey look it's the band!" That was our in. We started joking that we were sorry we were late and Zach piped in, "Let me buy you a shot." The guy willingly did and we spent a few minutes in the bar chatting with the folks and spreading our good cheer as he took his shot.

We left in a great mood, excited for the adventure ahead of us and we knew these would not just be any dares - but dares that would pay it forward! So we set the intention that all the remaining dares pay it forward.

I was up next. I chose a dare to stand by the side of the road and flag down a car to do something to pay it forward. I got out there and immediately flagged the first car that was passing and two women rolled down the window to see if I was ok. I said yes and looked over at my friends to ask if I needed to get them out of the car, and the two women nearly drove away. My friends said NO and I quickly turned back and said no wait, I am ok...I just wanted to give you $20 and say have a good day and pass it on...pay it forward!

The women were stunned and oh so grateful...they just kept saying thank you so much, oh my god, thank you so much...then they drove off. The four of us giggled like school children with delight! What an amazing feeling to sprinkle a little joy into others lives!

Next we pulled into a parking lot where Phil had to engage someone to get onto the roof of the Toyota Prius that we were driving. He did it. With grace and finesse, within a few minutes Phil had a guy on top of the Toyota with him yelling, "I love trees, I love nature, I love Toyota" as he had convinced them this was for a Toyota commercial to help their business since the Tsunami in Japan had impacted their production capacity! He then gave them an energy bar and $20 and said pay it forward!

They guy and his girlfriend enjoyed the experience and were grateful! Ha! What a total hoot and complete joy to enjoy the moment and share little moments and gifts like these with others!

Finally, we were driving back to town and it was Drew's turn. We had about a half hour before everyone would be meeting us at the wine bar, so Drew had to find some one off the street who would come in and have a glass of wine on us. Drew stopped the first couple that walked by and continued with the Toyota theme. He said he was with Toyota and was trying to give back in the community given the problems with production, so did they want to come join us for a glass of wine. They looked at each other a little perplexed and incredulous and said to each other, "That is random." They then looked at us and in unison said, "Sure, why not."

The young Canadian couple joined us for a glass of wine and we exchanged stories in good cheer and then they went on their way! Again...they were grateful for the interaction with new, fun and different folks...and so were we!

When they left, the four of us looked at each other and hi fived, laughed and reminisced! Wow! How good it feels to pay it forward and pass on good energy, joy and goodness! What a great reminder to do so more often and how doing so we can break through some of our own limitations and barriers and spread a little good cheer in the mean time!

When was the last time you PAID IT FORWARD? Try doing so today...and more often in your life!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at www.facebook.com/pilarstella1.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Leave Everything Better Than When You Found It!

I started thinking about something a yogi once told me...to leave everything better than when I found it. It seems like one of the most obvious and simple choices we can make in life. No matter how small the interaction - whether in a grocery store or walking down the street or attending a gathering - or how big - from friendships to relationships to partnerships and beyond - if your only intention is to just interact with any one and every one and leave them, and you, better than when you first met or interacted, imagine how the world will be.

I have been living by this principle, consciously, for some time now and it is miraculous how profound the effect is on me. I have almost begun to treat life and my interactions with others as a game. Not in a bad or insincere way, but just in a way that seeks to bring the light and best out of me and others. When I am in a grocery store, I try to engage others with a smile or an extra look in the eye or positive interaction. When I walk down the street, I try to take everything in and walk with a little skip or bounce in my step and smile on my face. When I run an errand, make a business call or email, I try to sprinkle a little light, love and grace onto others.

I can think upon countless interactions in which by just being a little brighter and lighter and sharing that light with others, their mood picks up or at least something shifts. I remember I was at a store once and the person behind the counter was very cranky. It made me sad, so I just gently and softly kept engaging them in little ways, asking them about themselves, being grateful for little things and by the end of the interaction, they had completely shifted.

It reminded me of throwing the stone into the water and watching the ripple effect. That as I seek to be brighter and leave everything better than when I found it, it has the effect of not only impacting that one person, but then that person turns around and shifts in their interactions with others.

Sometimes this is easier to do with strangers than those we love, but even in those interactions with loved ones it has a profound effect. Bringing in an sense of empathy, compassion and gratitude to our loved ones and those around us helps to heal everyone involved. I think about my relationships with friends, family and partners and make an effort so that as I leave every interaction, if I were to ask myself, did you leave them better than when you found them, I can say yes. It definitely takes a constant practice and a consistent effort, but it is worth the outcome and results - for me and I think for them.

Imagine what the world would look like if we could all leave everything better than when we found it. Often times that means meeting people where they are at and interacting genuinely and compassionately not being fake or insincere. Rather, it is about really being present to listen, feel and hear them and or smile at them or breathe deeply to uplift and share your own light with them.

Are you making a conscious effort with every action to leave things better than when you found them? What would it look like for you? Try it on for size and see how your world, and that of those around you, shifts...likely for the better!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at www.facebook.com/pilarstella1.
This blog is also found at: http://completebalance.com/experts/blog/item/leave-everything-better-than-when-you-found-it.html