At Made With Mia, we love hearing back from our customers. Most of our chocolate bouquets and boxes are purchased as gifts, so the feedback is normally about the recipient’s reaction. It’s always lovely to hear these little stories about how our chocolate flowers have brightened someone’s day.
However, what we particularly enjoy is how happy the person giving the gift is. That made us start thinking - exactly what is it about giving gifts that is so enjoyable? Why does the act of giving make us happy? I decided to go into research mode and find out more.
It Gives Us a Chemical Boost
This is amazing. Acts of generosity have been demonstrated to change our brain chemistry for the better. Serotonin, dopamine, oxycontin… all the things which regulate our mood for the better are released when you give a gift. Additionally, serotonin is connected to memory and learning, so giving a gift may actually help you study more efficiently. This shows that gift-giving is something that is literally biologically hardwired into us.
We React to the Reaction
All of us have a tendency to mimic the facial expressions of others - it’s a subtle way of establishing rapport. When someone smiles at us, we pick up on that and often instinctively smile back. What happens when we smile? Serotonin, dopamine and oxycontin are all released! Therefore, the smile you receive when you give a gift to someone will actually lift your mood in a measurable way!
It Deepens Relationships
We buy gifts for a myriad of reasons. Maybe a special occasion such as a birthday or Valentine’s Day. A loved one may have been feeling a little under the weather, and we want to cheer them up. Whatever the reason, giving a gift is a simple way to show someone you care. This makes the recipient feel cared for. The simple acts leads to a deepening of the relationship between the giver and receiver, resulting in a mutual increase in happiness.
It Improves our Community
Generosity is is linked to an improvement in happiness. At a biological level, this is likely due to the chemical reactions cited above. As a result, many behavioural scientists believe that people flourish within generous communities. Giving gifts leans into our natural behaviour, strengthening our society.
It Improves Our Health
A huge reason it feels good to give gifts, which we may only be subtly aware of, is that it actually improves our health. All those chemicals released into the brain upon giving a gift are connected to reduced levels of stress. Lower stress levels are linked to increased longevity. According to the linked article, generous individuals show improved health, even when controlling for exercise habits and age.
So, in summary - giving gifts is linked to a whole host of psychological, social, and health benefits. When I started this little research project, I had no idea that giving a gift was related to such a diverse range of factors. Personally, it’s encouraged me start proactively being more generous and giving more. After all, it seems that we are literally made for it.