Yes, real researchers have done real research behind why people like to give gifts (almost as much as they like to get them!) When you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the one reaping the benefits of that good deed as opposed to being the one doing the good deed, according to research from Emory University. This phenomenon has earned the nickname “helper’s high” among psychologists who study generosity, and some researchers theorize that this “high” is due to a release of those feel-good chemicals, endorphins. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves, even though participants’ predicted that spending the money on themselves would make them happier.
Obviously there are major gifting holidays throughout the year. Most notably Christmas, but also birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, weddings and baby showers—there is almost always a good reason to go looking for a gift. But what a lot of research is showing is that little acts of kindness and gifting not tied to any specific day or occasion, even something as simple as a handwritten card or favorite piece of candy, can mean just as much to the recipient and the giver themselves. Those little tokens of affection or appreciation can make someone’s day!
Even the act of looking for a sweet gift can make you feel good! “There is the whole act — determining what needs to be given and making sure it fits with the person,” says Devin A. Byrd, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at South University — Savannah. “There is an emotional lift when searching for the gift.” I know that when I find the perfect gift for a family member or friend I buy it right then and there, even if there is no real reason to buy that gift. Christmas might be months away but if it’s too good to pass on I’ll just stockpile those gifts for another day!
When was the last time you gave someone a little gift “just because”? Think how good you feel when someone does something nice for you for no real reason. Give those warm and fuzzies to someone else AND make yourself feel warm and fuzzy at the same time. GourmetGiftBaskets.com has a whole section of “just because” gifts to help you out, so do something nice for someone else today and make the world a little bit sweeter.