3 Reasons Why Surprise Gifts Make Everyone Feel Awesome
We all love the feeling of discovering a $5 bill stashed in a coat pocket. Even if $5 isn’t the same as winning a $5 million lottery jackpot, the feeling of surprise is similar – and it feels awesome! What if you could give that fantastic feeling to someone else?
We think one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give someone is a little bit of money with a beautiful card just because. Just because they’re your friend. Just because you’re thinking of them. Just because you haven’t heard from them in a while.
Don’t believe us that you can give that surprise money feeling? Here are three (science-backed!) reasons you can feel happier by giving a gift ‘just because’.
1. Giving makes you feel good
Forget what you’ve heard about money not buying happiness. Numerous studies have found that money can help you feel happier, but only when you ‘spend it right’. In their 2008 study, Elizabeth W. Dunn, Lara B. Aknin and Michael I. Norton found spending on yourself is “unrelated to happiness”. The same study found that “individuals who devoted more money to prosocial spending reported greater happiness,” even after controlling for their income.
2. It shows (instead of tells) the recipient you’re thinking of them
When you take a time out to give someone a gift and write them a note, it shows them you’ve taken time to reflect on your relationship with them. When we pause and take time to consider someone else, it brings us closer together – even if they’re far away.
3. Getting surprises makes us feel good
A study from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that human brains are hardwired to enjoy unexpected rewards. In the study, when people received an unexpected gain, the neurons in the substantia nigra (which play a significant role in reward) “exhibited significantly higher firing rates”. In other words, that awesome feeling you get when you get a surprise is hardwired into your brain.
Research is increasingly showing that it’s not about how much money you give that makes you happy, but the act of giving itself. And that act of giving kickstarts a cycle of happiness. And who doesn’t want to get (and give) a little more happiness in their day-to-day life?