Over the years I have noticed that I have become more and more pleased while giving gifts. Excited at Christmas for friends and family to see what I had got them. Then my family started telling me to save my money and not waste it on them. I did not like this idea and refused to do it. So it wasn't shocking that I recently learned that giving is a true way to gain happiness.
This may be surprising to us as a culture as we are often caught up in material wants which become needs. however studies show that shopping for yourself does nothing to increase our personal happiness. Buying something for someone else increases the hormones associated with happiness. Brain scans show giving stimulates the same area in the brain as sex and food. It can be as simple as buying a friend a coffee next time you are out.
Research from Harvard university proves that, universally, spending our money on others makes people happy. It doesn't matter what country you are from or you socio-economic status. And spending money on others certainly makes us happier then spending it on ourselves. As a person whose had some issues with shopping, I'm definitely going to take this into consideration. :)
Giving bigger or more expensive gifts do show we experience more happiness. Giving doesn't have to include buying someone anything. I recently made my neighbours an afghan, they were away for the weekend when I finished it. Monday couldn't come fast enough as I couldn't wait to give it to them and it felt so good, it was a happiness that stayed with me.
There are many other options, pass on a sweater of yours a friend loves. Give your used books to books to a friend, give a card of appreciation to someone who has showed you kindness. Make a charitable donation. Volunteer your time. Have a talent or skill, teach it to someone. There are many ways to be generous I'm sure readers will have many other ideas. I would love to hear them.
The important part is to give without expecting anything in return. One way to get in to trouble with happiness is to have unmet expectations. Almost all of your expectations will be too high as not everyone thinks like us. If I expect someone to make a big deal over my birthday because I made a big deal over their birthday could leave me feeling needlessly hurt. If I didn't hold such expectations I can't get hurt and would end up feeling angry. Of course this is a simplified example but as humans we get ourselves into trouble this way. It is best to give, just to give and not expect anything in return, that way you will experience the happiness of giving and not have to suffer from disappointment when your high expectations are not met.