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What is it about gift giving that fills our hearts with joy? Why is it that almost everyone finds themselves smiling when they hand a Christmas present to someone they love? Why do we as a species have such an incredible generous spirit? You might be surprised to find out why we all love being generous. There are many benefits, both physical and psychological, that we get when we give.

Good Memories and Happy Thoughts

The holiday season brings incredible memories. Holiday decorations, Christmas trees, giving presents, and singing favorite carols trigger neurological responses in the brain that releases feel-good endorphins. We feel better when we are generous and give to others, even more than when others give to us. Part of this is because our brain derives pleasure from seeing the happiness on another’s face, especially if we have a close tie to that person. Think about how the joy of giving to your loved one makes you feel warm inside. This triggers pleasant memories from childhood and family traditions from long ago.

Community

Humans are community-minded. We benefit psychologically and physically when we socialize with others. Part of this community includes sharing of our own resources. Communities that support each other, work together, and give to each other thrive. In the past giving may have just been sharing a meal or shelter. Today this includes giving Christmas presents during the holidays. Our generosity as a species helps us survive modern times.

Relationship Building

Seal a friendship or romantic relationship by giving a special one-of-a-kind gift. Think about how a proposal with the gift of a ring changes two lives separated but now intertwined. Or how you can help a friend in need with a generous gift that goes above and beyond. Spouses demonstrate how much they love each other through their gift-giving.

This doesn’t always mean that you have to purchase the most expensive gift. Sometimes it is the rare thoughtful gift between friends or family that demonstrates best how much the other person means to you. Some of the sweetest and original gift-giving takes place between children and parents. We all have memories of little trinkets that we created for our parents and grandparents as children. Gift-giving builds relationships. The gift of experiences, from short romantic getaways to lavish family vacations, builds relationships and memories to last a lifetime. Even something as simple as giving a weekend camping with Grand Dad or ballroom dancing classes together are both original and priceless.

This holiday season take the time to give a priceless gift. It can be for your parents, your spouse, your child, or even an elderly neighborly. You don’t have to spend large amounts money. Find a Christmas gift that you know is meaningful, a gift that shows that your loved one means so much to you. Connect with others. Be generous. Enjoy the sweet fruits of kindness and giving this Christmas.

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