Playing It Forward

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The other night my wife and I watched a movie entitled “Playing It Forward” starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey. It was an older movie but I thoroughly enjoyed it and chose to write this article using that theme. The focus of the movie was the fact that everyone’s role was associated with some type of problem. Some of them were alcoholism, disfigurement, spousal abuse, intense fear, attempted suicide, bullying and cocaine dependency ~ just to name a few.

The theoretical objective of the theme was a plan developed by the youngster in the movie to do something to help change a person’s plight with that person helping someone else with an ensuing pyramid developing affecting many, many different people. It was like a positive Ponzi scheme. Hence, the title “Playing It Forward.” There were many obstacles to the evolution of the objective leaving the viewer with the sense that people weren’t good enough to allow it to come to fruition … until the end. Unfortunately, the youngster whose idea it was died as a result of a knife wound inflicted when he attempted to help another youngster from being bullied. The final scene, however, involves the gathering of hundreds of people with candles paying tribute to the youngster whose idea it was to play it forward.

Is it true? Are people’s complacency and indifference to others too rampant in order to “play it forward?” I believe not! I believe that in real life there is a good deal of playing it forward that goes on but we seldom hear about it. It may only be the rare news report that will feature good deeds as an exception to the general rule but I wonder whether the number of instances that occur that go unreported are far more than we know. I know … it’s hard to focus on anything that is good with the kinds of angry, volatile and vicious behaviors that feed our “viewing pleasure” as we watch the nightly news. But in your neighborhoods, are you aware of people helping others without notoriety? In your families, do you know what someone may have said or done to help another member? Among your friends, have you been told of the times when someone might call upon another without any request just to say hello or to help out with a project?

Becoming aware of what we don’t know is what I believe needs to be accomplished in order to fully understand how playing it forward really works and to what extent it is practiced. This would take some communicating with other people to learn about such acts of kindness and caring. It’s true that the negativity appears to outweigh the positives in life today. However, placing more emphasis on positives as a practice in each of our lives can and will dispel that negativity over time. We’ve allowed that negativity to prevail. It didn’t occur on its own. Somehow, there was something … and I really don’t know what … that was attractive about negativity and it drew in those whose minds were preoccupied with their own sense of negativism and needed to be fed by tuning into the misfortunes of others whose lives might be even more negative.

Do I believe that it’s possible to PLAY IT FORWARD? Absolutely! It only takes one person which can easily translate into two, and then three people, and so on until that pyramid is built and functional. The media may not report it. That’s not the object. The object is to live life finding as many alternatives to happiness that we can find. After all, that has been my theme of professional practice since I completed my education. It’s an older belief but it can still work.


Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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