I love that Americans are among the most generous people on the planet. In recent years, a new way to show that generosity is something called "paying it forward." An example of "paying it forward" is to anonymously pay someone's bill either at the grocery store or in the coffee shop take-out line. It's a nice gesture. The idea is to inspire others to repeat the act of generosity with others.

Pay it forward is not exactly a new concept, though. According to Wikipedia, the idea comes from a 2000 film of the same name, loosely based on a book also called Pay It Forward. Wikipedia says the movie is about a seventh-grade teacher who hatches a plan to change the world for the better, "the recipient of a favor does a favor for three others rather than paying it back. However, it needs to be a favor that the recipient cannot complete themselves."

And there you have it, the roots of the modern-day "pay it forward" craze.

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I like the idea. It feels great to be the recipient of another's generosity, and it inspires me to "pay it forward." Kindness makes my day better, and I hope I inspire the same feelings by being kind to another stranger with my generosity.

Paying for someone is a kind and generous gesture, but when you post about it on social media it can appear as though you are only looking for praise. Posting about your actions does not undo your kindness, but sometimes it feels better to just remain anonymous.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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