Is It Really Better To Give Than To Receive?
by Kerry Finch ■ Updated: May 2, 2020
Our relationship with giving and receiving is a bit of a confusing one.
After all, we all enjoy receiving thoughtful gifts or simply having someone be available to talk to when we need them the most.
So isn’t it really better to receive than to give?
It turns out that human beings naturally gravitate towards giving. When you think about it, this makes sense.
Our parents modelled giving every day of our lives growing up (and often still do well into our adult years).
Giving is a lesson taught in schools, synagogues, and churches (the Bible even literally says that it’s better to give than receive [Acts 20:35]).
We aren’t the only creatures who enjoy giving, either. Bats, for example, will gladly share their food with their hungry brethren. There is even evidence that trees like to lend one another a helping hand.
Though researchers aren’t 100 per cent sure why we all seem to get a thrill from giving to another person, there are some theories out there about this topic.
Theory One: A Chemical Reaction
It turns out that when we give to one another, we enjoy a nice surge of the hormone dopamine.
This is known as the “feel good” hormone, and it’s the same sense of happiness we experience when we enjoy a good meal.
Theory Two: Greater Self Esteem and Self Worth
We may also be giving for somewhat selfish reasons.
Donating to a charitable organisation will often leave people feeling better about themselves.
Theory Three: Reduced Stress
It turns out that giving reduces stress across all species. When we give to another, we feel more relaxed and at ease.
This is an important one since stress has been linked to numerous negative health effects.
Theory Four: A Focus on Action Versus Outcome
Another theory is that when people focus on an action, they are concentrating on the fact that the action is joyful and good.
Two small studies showed that happiness was more consistent among those who donated money to others than those who pocketed the cash.
The Limitations of Giving Benefits
Giving, in general, makes us feel good – but it does have its limits.
The first and most important point is that the giving has to be done willingly.
For example, if you donate money to a charity of your choosing, you’ll walk away happy.
If a friend, family member, or manager at work guilt's you into making a donation to a charity of their choice, however, you won’t enjoy the same benefit (and in fact will likely be in a more foul mood).
The other important factor in giving is that the giver has to perceive it as being a positive thing.
Giving good advice to a friend who needs it can make you feel better.
Helping the kids with their homework assignment and seeing them receive a good grade will put a smile on your face.
The benefit stops when a giver feels that they are giving out of obligation. This also applies if the giver feels that their giving is ineffective or possibly having a negative impact on a recipient. This can lead to feelings of depression and cause an increase in stress.
3 Tips for Being a Thoughtful Giver
Giving a considerate gift that you know will make a positive impact on a loved one’s life is the best way to ensure that both the recipient and yourself reap the full benefits of giving and receiving.
When planning a gift, take the personality and the interests of the individual into consideration.
Write these down before you start shopping around.
When a thoughtful gift is given, the recipient will feel appreciated, and the gift will mean that much more to them.
Don’t Focus on The Cost:
We need to stop this cultural idea that the bigger the price tag, the better the gift.
In many cases, simply taking a friend out to a nice meal where you can chat with no interruption is the best gift you can give someone.
Pay Attention to Detail
If you're giving a physical gift making sure that your gift is well presented (like having it properly wrapped) says a lot about how much you care about the person receiving it.
Not a natural gift wrapper?
Not to worry, the team here at CoolThings Australia offer free gift wrapping to all of our customers, including a nice little note to go along with your package.
We have thousands of cool and unique gifts that are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Check us out online at www.coolthings.com.au to see them for yourself!