Amy Rees Anderson

Happier Giving Or Getting? That is the question…

We’ve all heard the saying “tis better to give than to receive”, but did you realize that’s actually a scientifically proven fact?  Cause it is!  In an article was posted in Psychology Today titled “Giving really is better than receiving: Does giving to others (vs. the self) promote happiness?” they explain it:

“Research by social psychologist Liz Dunn and her colleagues appearing in the journal of Science shows that people’s sense of happiness is greater when they spend relatively more on others than on themselves. In one survey of over 600 U.S. citizens, Dunn and colleagues found that spending money on others predicted greater happiness whereas spending money on oneself did not, and this pattern was found across all income levels. In other words, even those with little money reported greater happiness when their proportion of spending on others, relative to the self, was greater.

In a more controlled experiment, Dunn and colleagues gave students at the University of British Columbia an envelope containing money and told them that they either (1) had to spend the money on themselves before 5 p.m. that day or (2) had to spend the money on someone else before 5 p.m. Those who gifted for others were happier than those who gifted for themselves.

In some cases, there were 5 dollars in the envelope and in other cases there were 20 dollars. The amount didn’t matter — the results were the same. Spending on others made people happier than spending on oneself. Ironically, when asked to predict which outcome would make one happier (i.e., spending on oneself or spending on others), another group of students at the same university thought spending on themselves would make them happier than spending on others. In short, people’s selfish assumptions were proven wrong when they actually had the opportunity to give to others than to oneself.”

So there you have it!! It is better for you personally to give gifts to others than to receive gifts, so this holiday season put a little extra thought into your gifts. Remember that the study showed that happiness didn’t increase by spending more money on gifts, it was the just the act of giving that mattered.

Keep in mind, you can always give someone the gift of laughter as well. My kids have gotten me some hilarious gifts over the years, like the year my son and his wife gift wrapped all the furniture in one room of my house and told me they’d gotten me my own room for Christmas. It was a gift I’ll never forget and it makes me laugh every time I enter that room and remember what they did. And it didn’t cost them a dime because they used my own wrapping paper to do it :)…hilarious…

Frankly, the most meaningful gifts typically don’t cost much money at all.  The most meaningful gifts are the ones that you put thought into making personal and meaningful, like a handwritten card, or a digital photo frame with meaningful photos, or a handmade craft of some kind. Those are the gifts someone will hang on to long after the expensive gifts have worn out.  The important thing is just to give…you’ll be happy you did.

~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )

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