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Is it better to give or receive the perfect gift?

The age-old holiday question, answered.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Alan Cleaver

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Sabrina Mongiello, Contributing Writer

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I once read an book titled, “29 Gifts” based on the true story of Cami Walker, a woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease where nerves in the brain and spinal cord are severely damaged. Amid all of the pain Walker constantly went through, coupled with her severe depression, a South African healer she knew prescribed her with a therapeutic way of dealing with her condition — giving rather than receiving.

The woman advised Walker to give 29 gifts to others in 29 days.

These gifts did not have to be extravagant, Cami could check the giving box off each day by giving something as simple as a belly rub to her pet cat. The lesson learnt here was that Cami became much happier and more involved in life after giving to others with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

During the holiday season, many people may find themselves asking — is it better to give or receive the perfect gift?

I’m convinced giving the perfect gift is always more fulfilling than receiving one. Nothing compares to witnessing the gratefulness in a loved one’s eyes after they open a thoughtful present from you.

The joy that comes with gift-giving starts from a young age. A recent study published by psychologists at the University of British Columbia titled, “Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Childrenreported that even young children are happier while giving rather than receiving.

I believe this stems from the fact that all childhood friendships are essentially run on a barter system. The kind of system where questions like “We can play four square together if you give me some of your Fruit Gushers” are common.

In the aforementioned study, researchers found that “toddlers did not find giving aversive; rather, they exhibited greater happiness when giving treats … than when receiving treats themselves.”

But really, what’s better than spending days searching through countless stores, shops and websites for that perfect gift you know your loved one will appreciate? Hearing them say something along the lines of, “Oh my God, this is so me” when they open their gift, in turn, ends up making the giver feel like the special one.

In the end, it’s been proven that we as people inherently enjoy giving gifts — both material and immaterial — to those who mean the most to us. Giving ends up being the best gift of all. Happy holidays, everyone.

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