“All I want for Christmas is…” We hear the song and start thinking about holiday gift lists. Many of us take great delight in gift-giving, from window shopping and wrapping to the actual presentation of the gift. As it turns out, there’s more to these rituals than meets the eye.
Our brains crave the dopamine rush that comes from gift-giving. The release of this chemical increases feelings of happiness and well-being. Our brains want more of the feeling of being happy, so we repeat the action to get the same results. It’s a feedback loop, meaning giving often leads to more giving!
MYX Coach Shaun Patrick Tubbs recalls the start of his love affair with gift-giving. He was about 15 and wanted to wow his mother with an uncommon gesture she would cherish for years to come. His mom is a fan of HGTV, and he knew exactly what would speak to her.
“I always had an affinity towards home decoration,” he explains. “So I decided since she had already started redecorating our dining room in an Asian-inspired theme, I wanted to help her get to the finish line.”
Using his talents, Shaun created an experience of sorts. He stayed up all night reupholstering chairs and adding new artwork and other special touches that tied the room together.
Shaun says the look on his mom’s face the next morning was priceless. “It wasn’t anything she had to open up, but it was something she could step into as a gift.” He says her reaction was its own reward, and he took pride in knowing she was proud of his artistic vision and execution. Plus, it was unique and something she could enjoy for years.
Shaun still carries that same spirit. Even though life has gotten more complicated with additional people to buy for, he tries to stay grounded. He advises, “Instead of trying to give someone a gift, see how you can give them your time. Because that's such a valuable thing that no one can get back.” For example, you could offer to organize your mother’s closet. That’s likely to be better received than buying her the supplies to do it herself.
If you focus less on the price tag of gifts and more on the amount of joy they will bring, you have an ideal recipe for gift-giving.