We’ve been told for centuries that true joy comes from giving not receiving.
But in a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found that people are more likely to give when they think it will make them feel better.
Which leads me to question, what are the underlying reasons why people give? Is it to help someone in need? To gain some sort of notoriety, or to make oneself feel better?
As humans we have innate qualities of kindness, compassion and selflessness and people choose to see themselves in a certain way.
They reinforce that identity through their experiences, social standing, employment position and within their communities.
But when it comes to Christmas, what measure of giving is genuine?
Today’s commercialised Christmas is steering away from authentic offerings, encouraging consumers to buy overpriced products.
According to USA Today, the average Christmas shopper will spend more than $1000 US this year.
Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday and 50% Christmas sales bombard our emails, social feeds and mobile messages.
Despite the REAL meaning of Christmas being to give from the heart… not from the pocket.
In times past, Pagans gave presents at several festivals, including Saturnalia. This festival, held in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture usually began on December 17 and lasted a week.
They would give one another hand-made gifts of pottery figurines, edible treats of fruit and nuts, and candles, then enjoy a shared bountiful harvest and merriment to excess.
Christmas doesn’t have to be an exercise in consumerism – you can spend very little, and still get the brownie points by putting thought into your gift and giving genuinely.
Ideas for gifts to keep it simple.
1. Make a Christmas bouquet
2. Have the kids or grandkids paint a picture
3. A book of IOU’s could be a fun idea
5. Write a poem and frame it
6. Go on an outing to a fun park
7. Compile a 12 days of Christmas Quote book
8. Cook jams, chutneys, sweet treats and package them
9. Share your vegetable crop
10. Make candles, cakes of soap and other creative items
These simple acts of giving reduce stress by not putting your finances in the red and have been found to produce the happy hormone – dopamine.
That warm and fuzzy euphoria lights up the same part of your brain that responds to food and sex.
Neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated this in a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology.
The fMRI scans showed that when participants acted in an altruistic manner, namely giving, it was like “psychological chocolate.”
Giving can make you feel exceptionally virtuous especially when it comes from the goodness of your heart.
This Christmas be inspired to dig deeper by giving a little more thought and a little more heart into your gifts.
Really pour out the love and authenticity to those who have nothing and those who have it all.
Take time to open your heart not your purse.