THE STRAIGHT UP
WHATWILL YOU GIVE FOR CHRISTMAS? The Extraordinary Benefits of Giving
“TODAY, MY FAVORITE PART OF THE HOLIDAYS IS GETTING GIFTS FOR MY LOVED ONES. I REALLY LOVE FINDING THE PERFECT GIFT FOR MY FRIENDS, THEIR CHILDREN, MY GODCHILDREN, MY HUSBAND, AND, STARTING THIS YEAR, MY DOG, BUSTER.”
I didn’t expect to get every gift I wanted, but I loved the mystery and excitement of it. To me, wondering what I might get was as much fun as actually opening the presents on Christmas morning.Years later, I learned this phenomenon is called “anticipatory savoring,” and it can actually help you enjoy any experience more. As I grew up, the object of my seasonal anticipatory savoring shifted from the gifts I would get to the gifts I would give. Today, my favorite part of the holidays is getting gifts for my loved ones. I really love finding the perfect gift for my friends, their children, my godchildren, my husband, and, starting this year, my dog, Buster. It’s fun to picture how excited and surprised the person will be when they open the gift. I know I’m not the only one who enjoys gift-giving so much. In fact, there is substantial research on the impact gift-giving has on our wellbeing. Would you believe giving can help you live longer? In 1999, a study led by Doug Oman of the University of California found seniors who volunteered at two or more charities were less likely to die over a 5-year period, compared to nonvolunteers. This is likely because people who provide social support to others tend to have lower blood pressure, and therefore enjoy the associated health benefits.
o you remember the Sears Wish Book? Back in the time of holidays past, Sears would release a massive catalog each year,
In addition to the physical benefits, giving truly makes us happier people. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates areas of the brain associated with pleasure, trust, and social connection. This may be why giving is contagious. Research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science showed that when a person acts generously, it inspires others to follow their lead. That generosity continues to spread from person to person. This is great news, because giving helps build cooperation and social connections. Giving, whether we’re giving our time or a physical gift, strengthens our connections with other people. It can help us build a better community. I love the idea that giving can help make the world a better place. When we give a little, we truly get a lot in return. Isn’t making the world a better place what the holidays are all about?
featuring over 500 pages of consumer dreams. The Sears catalog had all kinds of things in it, but, as a kid, the only thing you cared about was the 100 pages of toys. I remember being 10 years old, flipping through the pages and marking the toys I wanted Santa Claus to bring me. I figured he was so smart, dog-earing a page in the SearsWish Book would be enough for Santa to know what I wanted.
Merry Christmas to you all! May you get, and give, everything you were hoping for this year.
–Dr. Leslie Pitner
Smile big. Smile often. • 803-781-5225www.drpitner.com
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