Gift-giving can be a complicated matter. From deciding whether or not a gift is appropriate, to selecting the gift itself, to figuring out when and where to give it to your recipient. So why should you do it?
Here are seven reasons why it is better to give than to receive.
1. Seeing Them Smile
Fewer things in life bring us greater joy than being involved in creating the joy within those we love. When you give a gift to someone and upon opening it, you see their face light up, you know you have been the direct cause of their happiness — and that is a powerful thing, indeed.
2. It’s Good For You
Recent studies in the field of Neurosciences have found that giving gifts has significant health benefits. The altruistic, or selfless, part of the brain is the part that drives us to help others. As social mammals, this is an innate need that we seek to fulfill, and when we do, three powerful hormones are released: serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These are our “feel good” chemicals, but studies have proven that they not only make us feel happier, but they also improve mental well-being, aid in sleep, and even work as anti-inflammatory agents and promote physical healing.
3. It Makes You Feel Good
The chemical trifecta of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin also promote our own feelings of happiness. This is two-fold, and works on a restorative, cyclical basis. When we offer someone we love a gift, and remember, the value or cost is not what’s important here, those chemicals are released and flood our bodies with a natural, chemical sensation of overall well-being. That initial result impacts nearly all aspects of our life, from performance, to sleep, to blood pressure, to the ability to allow our body to rest and heal, and that in turn makes us feel even better, resulting in a cycle of overall happiness.
4. Giving Increases our Ability to Socially Connect
In difficult times like these, so very many of us feel alone. We aren’t able to socially interact with those we love like we used to, we aren’t able to be present in the community like we once were, but giving gifts can enhance that social connectedness that we all so desperately long for. When we give someone we care about a gift, they feel more connected to us, and that in turn makes us feel closer to them, too. Our own generosity causes us to perceive others in a more favorable light, and develops within us a heightened sense of interdependence and involvement within our own social communities.
5. Giving Helps to Offset Depression
Along with this idea of social connectedness, over 16 million Americans struggle with depression every year, and many of these individuals have yet to find a treatment option that works for them. The publication Psychology Today notes the importance of selflessness in battling depressive symptoms and addresses the fact that the number one factor involved in the cycle of depression relates to isolation. Giving gifts helps us to stay socially connected to those we love, members of our family, as well as the communities in which we live, directly combating feelings of isolation and reducing feelings of self-loathing. This in turn battles depressive symptoms, working to end the cycle and promote positive feelings of self-worth.
6. It’s the Right Thing to Do
In a society morally consumed by the never-ending need for the acquisition of property, there is something to be said for being able to let things go. Developing one’s selflessness forces a shift in perception, resulting in people who see less tangible things like time, recognition, appreciation, and trust as things of the greatest value.
7. It is for the Greater Good
Modeling has a huge influence on the world at large. When others bear witness to us engaging in a behavior, they are more likely to engage in the same behavior themselves. When our friends see us giving a gift to someone, or hear about us having done so, they are more likely to give gifts themselves.
The giving of gifts in a powerful practice in engaging in the art of life. Not only will all of the aforementioned health benefits impact our own personal lives, but through the selfless act of gift giving, we will be essentially paying it forward. We model the same powerful behaviors to those around us and positively impact change in generations to come. Gift-giving is contagious, it is beautiful, it helps and heals and inspires, and ultimately it is in what we have to give that we are able to benefit and shape the world.