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The Story Behind “Pay It Forward Birthdays”

 

by Glenn Shepard
October 10, 2017
Category: Inspiration


 

Columbia, TN Oct 31

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There are no calories in anything you eat on your birthday.
Source: Totally not true. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

 


As Greg Allman sang, “I’m no angel”.

But I am a much better person than I was not so long ago.

When I was in my twenties, I was as narcissistic and self-centered as they come. I was also impatient and never satisfied.

As the years passed, I grew up and developed a better set of values. I found that it really does feel better to give than to receive, and became a giver.

I’m no Bill Gates, but have given away a mini-van, a Jaguar, and a Land Rover to families in need. Each time I found it intriguing that I got more pleasure from the few minutes it took to give them away than from all the years I drove them.

Then one year I read a story about how commercialized Christmas had become, and it occurred to me how ironic it is that people celebrate Christ’s birthday by doing something I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t want – focusing on “stuff” instead of people. So I then began an annual tradition of going to Goodwill each Christmas and giving $100 bills to families who look like they could use a little help.

While I eventually found the peace and satisfaction I lacked in my younger years, the one thing I didn’t find was patience. In fact, the opposite occurred. The older I get, the more impatient I get with my three big pet peeves:


1. People who take so freely but give little in return

2. People who are ungrateful for what they have been given

3. People who don’t put their money where their mouth is (both figuratively and literally)


One thing that hasn’t changed as I’ve gotten older is that I still believe birthdays are the one day of the year everyone is entitled to be the most selfish, self-centered, self-indulgent narcissist in the world and not feel guilty about it.

For this reason, I’ve celebrated mine in some pretty fun ways, from racing Ferraris and Lamborghinis, to flying a Jetpack in Key West to driving a mini-submarine in the Caribbean to sky-jumping off the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

But after I turned 50, I kept thinking about the BB King song “The Thrill Is Gone”. I didn’t want to lose the excitement of birthdays, but there wasn’t much left that gave me a jolt like those things.  Then it hit me.

I got so much pleasure from performing random acts of kindness for strangers at Christmas, there was no reason I couldn’t do the same on my own birthday – and ask others to do it as well.

I’m grateful to be able to turn a year older (because it sure beats the alternative). So I decided I should practice what I preach by showing my gratitude.

I began on my 51st birthday by giving an envelope containing $51 to the manager at McDonald’s to pay for breakfast of the people after me. Then we carried a birthday cake to a local fire station. Then a young woman named Erica Woodbury in Huron, SD, took the idea and ran with it by performing 51 Random Acts of Kindness for total strangers, and a new annual tradition called “Pay It Forward Birthdays” was born.

On October 20, 2017, I’ll turn 54. We’ll begin the celebration by dropping off $54 at McDonald’s, and then taking a cake to the Police Department, and so on. (The cake idea isn’t completely altruistic. I’d gain 15 pounds from eating it all if I didn’t).

If you’ve reached a point in life where you don’t exactly anticipate birthdays any longer, I challenge you to ask people to perform a random act of kindness for a total stranger in your honor.

I guarantee you it will be the most memorable birthday you’ll ever have, AND you’ll start looking forward to birthdays again.



To Your Success,


Glenn Shepard
aka Birthday Boy


P.S.
 If you’d like to participate in my Pay It Forward Birthday celebration this year, perform a random act of kindness for a total stranger before October 20, and email it to HappyBirthdayGlenn@Yahoo.com. My Beautiful Bride prints out the emails and gives them to me in a three-ring binder on the big day.

 

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