The gift of giving


From a young age we are taught to share and we are taught that happiness is important. You put those two together and can find yourself spreading cheer through the gift of giving. Watching somebody smile as you hand them a gift immediately allows a sense of happiness to overcome you.


Social psychologist Liz Dunn and her colleagues performed experiments on several groups of people. In one controlled experiment they handed an envelope of money to students from the University of British Columbia. The students could either spend the money on themselves or spend the money on someone else. Both options had a 5 pm deadline. As discussed here, it was reported that the students who spent the money on others were happier than the ones who spent it on themselves. The euphoria that overwhelms you after making someone else happy is incomparable to say the least. It is amazing how the human mind works. We can be selfish and selfless all at the same time. We know that by providing for others it is making them and ourselves happy all at once.


The Science of Generosity: Why Giving Makes You So Happy

6 thoughts on “The gift of giving

  1. Summer A Carson

    The fact that “We can be selfish and selfless all at the same time” is quite incredible! It is very true that we as people can get an overwhelming satisfying feeling that takes over our bodies when we do something good. For example, when I was canning two weekends ago that exact feeling happened to me. It was amazing to see how many people were willing to donate to THON and to people they have never met just becuase they knew it was a for a great cause! I could tell that the people who donated to us were happy with themselves as well because they had made a difference for that day and it showed in their sudden increase in mood. There are also a bunch of scientific reasons that “giving is good”, and some of them include lower blood pressure and lower stress levels. You can read more on why “giving is good” from this article which gives a great overview

  2. Valerie Lauren Murphy

    I’m not surprised at all at the results of that study. Although saving your money and finally making a purchase that you’ve been waiting for gives a feeling of accomplishment, nothing compares to the emotions you feel when you make a purchase with the intention of gifting it to someone else. The surprise and happiness that can be seen on the other person’s face is extremely rewarding. There’s also an intimate component in the act of giving. It takes thought and an understanding of that person to give a gift with meaning. It would be interesting to see what the people who spent the money on others would do if the money was their own. I’m not trying to discredit their generosity, but perhaps they would have chosen differently if it was their own money being used.

  3. Alexis Paige

    I wouldn’t consider myself a pessimist at all, but I do think it is human nature to be selfish. For example, in a game of kickball the ball came flying at my friend and I, and without thinking about it I had put her in front of me. I felt so bad but time after time I always have an instinct to save myself first before others. I find it so nice that people can overcome this innate urges and be giving. Do you think generous people have to fight their nature to do so? Here’s study about human selfishness.

  4. sbm5465

    I actually recently wrote an essay on the power of human generosity, specifically through the means of volunteer work and community service. I loved your blog post because I found it interesting that experiments had to be done to prove this to people. I suppose that if you haven’t experienced how giving back in turn makes you feel good too, it may be hard to believe.

  5. Lauren Elizabeth Mcgonigle

    This post made me happy just thinking about it! I absolutely LOVE gift giving much more than I love receiving a gift. It is the best feeling when you give someone a present or anything and it is perfect for them, or a really creative and good idea! The satisfaction of someone else lighting up and getting excited is just so satisfying to me. I 100% agree with you, the gift of giving is much more satisfying. It would be interesting to find a group of people and ask if they like to receive or give. I would like to see how many people in this world would give into the pressure of being selfless or those who just have no care and will choose to be selfish. Finding the underlying reasons such as environmental or biological effects of the way people feel in correlation with this topic would also be interesting. Great article!

  6. Jeffrey R Nelson

    Loved this post, something about the compassion of humanity. I could not agree with this post more, I always feel so much better when I share with someone rather than keeping to myself. I find that I get along more with people who are like this too, which would make sense. I liked your post so much that I went and looked at other stories regarding the new rise of selflessness and here is a link to it:

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