You know that jolt of happiness you feel when you receive a gift, especially if it’s one you’ve been hoping for? Usually we show our gratitude for the present with a hug and a “thank you”, but what could giving a gift in exchange do for us and the other person? More than some may expect! Not only does it give the receiver the opportunity to feel the same excitement and joy that we have, it benefits us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Givers discover many healthy and positive changes in themselves, according to Cleveland Clinic. Generosity lowers blood pressure, stress levels, and depression in favor of high self-esteem and a longer life. Chemicals in our brains that have been fondly dubbed the “warm glow” give us a sense of satisfaction that we have done our part to make someone’s day brighter.
It’s probably no surprise that the gift-giving season is one of the happiest! Stefania Minardi and Özgür Evren, professors of economics and decision sciences, researched the effects of warm-glow giving and told us that when we receive, it naturally increases our perceived value of giving—and our motivation to do it.
Giving as a sign of gratitude isn’t just about spending money. You can offer the other person numerous things: your time, talents, reassurance, affection and help are all valuable gifts to give when someone is in need. Adopting the habit of giving those things when you can will often result in pleasant surprises for both you and the receiver. You may help them when you didn’t even know that they needed it.
There are so many people we could buy gifts for to show our appreciation for them. As you think of each person, it’s helpful to keep in mind that you don’t always have to “buy big.” Some smaller gifts that can be just as meaningful are:
- An encouraging note on someone’s door
- A favorite treat on the desk at work
- A gift card that they can use to treat themselves
- A trinket to add to their collection
- A sweet card to let them know you were thinking of them
- A contribution to their favorite charity
Every gift that we give genuinely is an opportunity to show how much we appreciate the other person and the influence they have on our lives. As you express these gifts of gratitude to others, you’re giving the inherent gift of health and happiness to yourself too.