The holidays: fun, joy of celebration, memories galore.
All impossible without sparkly décor, red and green garb, and a load of presents, right?
How about I skip rant about the commercialization of Christmas, and talk about four reasons the acquisition approach is actually detracting from your goal?
First, although the euphoria of opening gifts is real, so is that gift hangover afterwards. Research shows that once the endorphins from acquisition wears off, then recipients are left with wanting more and better. The hedonic treadmill refers to this escalating cycle that fuels our growing appetite for what are likely nonessential goods, and which actually leaves us feeling worse. That’s probably not what you’re aiming for with your generosity.
Second, research also shows that gifting an experience is actually a more memorable and satisfying investment. Furthermore, experiences are best when done with loved ones, which is good for your relationship as well. Investing in the quality of your experience and relationship is actually a strategy that yields an enduring payoff.
And many of these experiences are inexpensive or free. My best friend and I bake something special together each year in lieu of gifts, and our time together creates priceless memories. An added benefit: when you exert effort, you’ll enjoy the reward that much more.
Third, our purchases cost even more this year due to rising inflation. That’s money that could be better apportioned to investing in education, or your own retirement. There are also many in need who, for the same reason, cannot afford to pay their rent, utilities, or even food bills. So consider cutting your gift purchases in half and invest the rest in meeting someone’s basic needs, either in the present or future. Since giving most benefits the giver, donating food or money is also like giving yourself a gift.
Finally, depending on the purchase, the gift itself may be the result of mining and extraction. Earth can least afford another physical assault during this escalating climate threat. Instead of contributing to Earth harm, spend time in nature, which is healing for you as well. Or a two-fer, give to an organization that promotes Earth care and healing. A healthier Earth means a healthier us.
In summary, consider the consequences of where you put your money. Do you wish to spend it for no, or even possibly negative benefit? Or do you wish to invest it in something positive and enduring?
The time and effort you would’ve spent in planning and purchasing gifts can be spent deciding meaningful ways to invest in health, healing, and giving in a meaningful and impactful way. You don’t have to be rich to feel rich. Invest in satisfying and rewarding experiences with our loved ones and Earth, which can feel special and meaningful all year round.