Seeking happiness? Luckily, it’s for sale. Yes, you can actually spend your way to a better mood, but there’s one catch—anything you buy must be gifted to someone else.
Giving is scientifically proven to reap more personal happiness than receiving. The act of gift giving releases endorphins and dopamine within your brain. These natural chemicals are part of the body’s reward system, and are designed specifically to make you feel good. What’s more, happiness is highly contagious. For each random act of gifting, you’re enhancing communal bonds, strengthening relationships and encouraging positivity. Here are some excuses to go buy stuff, er, get happy.
If your relationship has taken a backseat to work, kids and bustling schedules, the growing rift can lead to impending discontent. Random acts of love in the form of gift giving can act as the first step in regaining romance in a marriage or long-term relationship. Presenting your loved one with a thoughtful gesture strengthens intimacy that leads to increased self-esteem for both parties. As one person feels appreciated by another, they feel an intrinsic responsibility to return the favor. Instead of limiting gifts to holidays, opt for small gifts throughout the year to add an element of surprise. Something as simple as a card or preparing a candlelit dinner after a stressful day can strengthen your bond as a couple.
Next time a friend announces the purchase of new house, arrival of a new baby, adoption of a puppy or the beginning of a new relationship, don’t block them from your news feed. Instead, take part in the celebration by sending a gift. You’ll find yourself happier for it. Rejoicing with others creates an opportunity to multiply the good times you get to celebrate. By seizing every chance to sincerely congratulate others on their success, you are creating an atmosphere for them to celebrate your successes. Don’t let envy burn your social bridges, with a supportive attitude you’ll generate a network of loyal friendships, thus increasing your happiness potential.
Lend a Hand
Stop making excuses for helping those in need—your happiness depends on it. People who give to charity are 43 percent more likely than people who don’t give to say they’re very happy people, according to reports by Brigham Young University. Additionally, people who give tend to have lower rates of depression and higher rates of self-reported happiness. What researchers dub the “helper’s high” is brought on by even the smallest act of kindness. You don’t have to be rich to help the less fortunate; donating your time or services produces the same rewards.
Now that you’ve spread joy among your friends, family and those in need, it’s OK to treat yourself to a thoughtful gift. There’s one other class of material objects that can lead to happiness: treasured objects for which you have a particular passion. A carefully selected gift for yourself can heighten feelings of happiness if it creates an exceptional and memorable experience. For example, if you’re a confections connoisseur, hand-selecting a box of fine chocolates presents an experience that’s based on more than the material item itself.