December is fast approaching and most of us, if we haven't already started, find ourselves in the yearly rabbit whole of Christmas gift shopping. And if you are anything like me, this period and task always feels a little draining… What would the suitable gift for your special someone be? What have you been giving last year? And what would a great sustainable gift be? Something that really brings value and doesn't just clutter our homes without any real purpose?
With all those aspects to consider, we totally forget what this season is actually about and why we are giving gifts. The reason is definitely not to support the big shopping malls in reaching their yearly sales targets and earn an even bigger bonus. The art of gift giving is about doing something good. It is about making your special someone smile and to create a connection. In order to do that, let's go back to the basics and have a look at why Giving is so important. Let's get inspired by positivity and start gift giving with the right reasons in mind. Here are some of the most important aspects and consequences of giving:
1. Giving makes us happy.
When giving to others and seeing their real and authentic positive reaction to our gift, our body creates endorphins and dopamine - our feeling-good hormones. Leading to us being actually high on giving as our cognition, emotions, feeling of self-worth, and confidence increase. Giving is a real mood-booster as we feel empowered and fulfilled. We see that we have a real impact on our special someone's life and this encourages us to do even more good. All in all, our stress levels are reduced, even if we are only talking about perceived stress levels.
2. Giving is good for our physical health.
Not just our mental health is positively impacted by giving and kindness, but studies have shown that kind, positive, caring, and giving people lead on average a longer and healthier life. No joke. Some studies even suggest that caring and giving is probably more important to your overall health in the long run than exercise. Our immune system apparently really thrives on giving.
3. Giving strengthens your own personal values.
When you ask people why they give for example to charity, the majority will answer something like Giving being their moral duty as they want to share their resources with people having less. This is a sentiment rooted rather deeply in our personal morals and values. The principle of giving is thus linked to our moral compass. Some of us feel a sense of obligation, of responsibility. Acting on those feelings is a powerful way to reinforce and strengthen them within our ethical beliefs system.
4. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection.
Giving creates a kind of snowball effect as it inspires even more kindness, care, and altruistic acts. This is true for yourself but also for the people around you, being the recipient or the witness of your giving. The more you give, the more likely you are to also get something in return. This doesn't always have to be materialistic things, but more importantly trust, cooperation, social connection, or intimacy. When giving, we give a positive example to our children that we have agency in life and that there are always ways to make an impact and be the change.
5. Giving boosts gratitude.
That being grateful plays a huge part in our overall wellbeing and happiness, has been discussed by many experts and researchers in recent years. But did you know that the act of giving promotes feelings of gratitude as well? Not just when you are at the receiving end of a gift, but also when you are the person actually giving. Giving makes us appreciate what we already have and shows us that there is hope and kindness in an otherwise stressful and pressuring world.
Have you ever noticed any of the above mentioned positive consequences when giving? How do you approach this season of gifting? Which changes can you make to your approach to be more mindful and tap into the positivity rather than the stress? Remind yourself that gifting doesn't always have to be about the newest, most fancy, and shiny object. You can also give your time, your patience, advice, or simply your presence. Explore those rather unconventional alternatives and experience the importance of the art of giving...