Everyone enjoys receiving a present, especially when it’s an unexpected surprise. But what if we told you the act of giving can increase your happiness? As psychologists explore the science of generosity, they’re learning why the simple act of giving can improve your health and well-being.
In an earlier post, we reviewed the importance of gift-giving in corporate environments. In that regard, the act of gifting is a viable strategy to grow your business and improve the relationship you have with clients and customers. It lets your employees know how much you appreciate their effort, and contributes to a happier workforce. Now, let’s take a look at why giving can make you a happier person!
The Psychology of Gift-Giving
In a recent study by psychology researchers Ed O’Brien and Samantha Kassirer, the act of giving was found to make people happier—a happiness that lasted for a longer period of time—than what they felt from receiving. “Repeated giving, even in identical ways to identical others, may continue to feel relatively fresh and relatively pleasurable the more that we do it,” O’Brien said in a press release that announced the study.
The researchers gave participants a small amount of money to spend each day, directing one group to spend it on themselves and the other to give it away (in tip jars or by online donation, for example). The participants were asked to quantify the happiness they felt in regard to their spending each day. The researchers found that the happiness reported by those who spent the money on themselves faded throughout the study, while those who gave it away felt just as happy each time, even at the end.
O’Brien and Kassirer conducted another experiment with online participants, and found similar results. Over time, people who gave to others reported a longer-lasting happiness than those who received.
The researchers speculate that when people focus on an outcome, like receiving something, they tend to compare outcomes. But when people focus on an action like giving, instead of an outcome, it’s a more novel experience. And that’s what makes them happier. The release also suggests that giving helps us reinforce our sense of social connection and belonging, which might explain why the happiness we get from gift-giving lasts for a longer amount of time.
Giving is Good For You
Generosity can be good for your health, as surprising as it may seem! In a story published by TIME about similar research, we learn about the link between giving and low blood pressure, better health and a longer life expectancy. UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine also published a great article on the subject, reviewing several other studies related to giving and personal well-being.
Despite all the recent science on the subject, people have felt the value in giving gifts for thousands of years. Everyone knows that giving can be a rewarding act; we’ve all experienced the warm feeling of a gift being well-received, or donating to an important cause. We shouldn’t shy away from gifting because it also happens to be self-serving, though. Happiness is contagious, and it makes the world a better place.
When you’re in the mood to give, Details by DiFonzo wants to help you pick the perfect gift. Whether you’re shopping for your clients and employees, or planning a party for your family and friends, we’re here to offer customized services that fit every budget. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you spread joy to the people you care about.