The holiday season is a time of giving: love, gratitude or material presents because as it turns out gifts make us happy regardless of their kind.
When Christmas is approaching everyone is running around shopping. Most of us shop for presents for our loved ones. We make lists of people we want to buy gifts for we try to figure out what they would like most as choosing a present can actually be a very difficult task.
Of course, we can always ask them if there’s something they want in particular so we can make our task easier, and while some of them are nice enough to share their material wishes with us, others are spoiling everything by saying all they need is to have us around on Christmas. And although this is probably one of the nicest things we hear all year, we still get frustrated over not knowing what to put under the tree for them.
Yes, experiences and emotions are truly the things that make us happy. Many people believe that material things are just extra things that have no meaning and money doesn’t bring happiness. But according to research, that’s not entirely true.
A team of researchers at the University of Columbia conducted a study to figure out exactly what sort of gifts make us happy. The findings showed that experiences indeed make us happy, the feeling is a long-term one of a lower intensity. On the other hand, material gifts give us a high-level of happiness on the spot, like a burst of joy.
The participants in the study were undergraduate students who were asked to talk about a material gift they received for Christmas last year and about an ‘experience’ gift they received such as concert tickets or trips.
The study actually started recently after Christmas in 2014 and went on until February 2015. The subjects had to say whether the gifts is contributing to their happiness at the moment (which was a few weeks later) and whether they were currently using the gift. Two months later, they had to say how happy they feel when they think about the gift and how much the gift contributes to their overall happiness.
The results showed that the happiness we feel from material gifts is more frequent, while the other kind of happiness is nostalgic and less frequent. This type of happiness is called ‘afterglow’.
All in all, regardless of what you’ve given your loved ones this Christmas, they will be happy either way, as material gifts mean happiness in your life, while experiences make you feel happy about your life.
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