Christmas is over and, for many people, the happiness associated with the season is gone. It’s easy to think that the happiness of Christmas comes from the excitement of parties, the thrill of new gifts, and the sensory excitement of lights, music, and entertainment. But, that’s only part of the equation. As it turns out, the old saying ‘It’s better to give than to receive’ is actually true when it comes to holiday happiness. Gift giving, in other words, is a greater source of holiday happiness than gift getting.
Numerous studies have confirmed that giving gifts actually makes us happier than acquiring new possessions. According to Elizabeth Dunn (Harvard) and Michael Norton (University of British Columbia), co-authors of the book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, “a series of experiments…found that asking people to spend money on others – from giving to charity to buying gifts for friends and family – reliably makes them happier than spending that same money on themselves.”
Interestingly, their research found that the amount or value of the gift didn’t much matter. In fact, spending only a few dollars on another person has been shown to provide a measurable increase in the giver’s happiness level. Though most of us outwardly subscribe to that theory, how many of us really believe it?
It’s better to give than to receive? It’s not the value of the gift, but the spirit in which it’s given? Could it really be that so many of our Christmas clichés are true? Then why not experiment on the greatest Christmas cliché of all – keeping Christmas with you all year long? Could it be that the secret to retaining that sense of holiday happiness is as simple as keeping up the habit of giving to others? If you’re really interested in keeping that holiday cheer with you for the whole year, make 2014 a year of kindness, generosity, and giving!