“As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.” – Maya Angelou

The late writer and philosopher Maya Angelou was a proponent of what has become known as “Pay It Forward.”  This is the concept that says when someone is kind to you or does something that is not required, you should go out and do something for someone else.  This keeps the wheels of good deeds turning and helps those who need a little boost when they need it so that they can go out and do the same.

According to Clifton Cottom, father of Asia Cottom, “Every time I talk about it, and every time I help someone, I feel a little better. I heal a little more. One of the biggest parts of my healing was giving back through mentoring kids. There is something about helping others that takes you outside yourself for a while. I don’t know what I would have done without those kids.”

Clifton Cottom has reason to understand this concept.  His daughter Asia was a victim of the 9/11 attacks.  Asia was on her way to California for a special school trip when hijackers took over the plane in which she was riding and ultimately crashed it into the Pentagon.


For a long time, Clifton admits that he could not see the purpose in this pain and suffering.  However, after he worked with other kids, particularly those who needed his help due to having a poor home life or other problems, he found that taking himself away from his own grief was a good way to heal.

Whatever you are going through, helping others is one way to overcome sorrow or despair.  Many people who work with underprivileged children, the homeless or other needy groups find that they are much happier and more fulfilled by being taken out of themselves for awhile and focusing on helping others.  Clifton Cottom learned this lesson after his daughter’s death; what have you been doing to “pay it forward?”

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