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How Making Gift-Giving A Habit Improves Your Mental Health

How Making Gift-Giving A Habit Improves Your Mental Health

“People are naturally selfish and everyone just looks out for themselves.” How many times have you heard or thought of a statement like this? Is it true? According to a recent study about selfishness, it appears that people are not naturally selfish! In the study, they discovered that even when the part of the brain that controls generosity was interrupted, participants in the study acted generously out of impulse. This study showed that selflessness can be a natural response, instead of an effort.

This is good news for people who want to build a habit of gift giving. It won’t be so hard to do after all, when your natural impulse is to be generous. If you have ever gone through a season where you are constantly taking and never giving, you will know that it wears on you after a while. Constantly taking and never giving back can actually prevent happiness, the one thing that people around the world are looking for.

Psychologists say that giving gifts can improve our mental health, which generally makes us happier. They take it one step further by saying that if you give without the expectation of receiving anything in return, your mental health will definitely improve and you will feel good inside about what you have done.

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If you want to improve your mental health by making a habit of gift-giving, here are some tips that will help you accomplish your goal:

1. Gifts Aren’t Just for Special Occasions

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    Most people think of gifts in relation to birthdays, Christmas, and other events that call for gift-giving. People are generally expected to give gifts for these types of occasions though, and while you will feel some satisfaction from choosing the right gift for someone, it is not enough to create the kind of happiness that selfless giving bestows upon the giver.

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    While you are trying to make a habit of gift-giving, think outside the box. Make a list of the people in your life that you want to bless, and give a gift to each of them without an occasion to go with it. They will be surprised and pleased at your show of generosity. Just remember to keep your gifts appropriate. Giving a new girlfriend an expensive piece of jewelry will only have her running for the door! Instead, try a small token to let her know that you are paying attention when she talks about what she likes.

    Another option here is to start paying closer attention to the needs of your loved ones, and focus your gift-giving on meeting those needs. If your sister needs her car’s oil changed but can’t afford it or make time to get it done right now, offer to take her car in and pay for the oil change. If you have the means to meet some of the needs around you, do it – once you build this habit, your life will change from solely caring about your own needs, and you might find that others start helping you with your needs after you spend some time meeting theirs.

    2. Be Selfless, But Don’t Forget Yourself

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      It is possible to be too selfless. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will find yourself in a bad place both emotionally and financially. While you are making a permanent habit of gift-giving, don’t forget that you deserve a gift every now and again as well. Sometimes people wait to receive certain gifts from others, thinking that their self-worth is tied to whether or not a person shows them appreciation by giving them the gift. But your self-worth cannot come from other people, not even your spouse! You are who you are, regardless of who does or does not give you gifts. So give yourself a gift once in a while. After all, who knows what you want to receive more than you do?

      A few years ago, I received a retroactive raise from my job, and it came just before Christmas. I had already bought gifts for my loved ones, so I used the money to buy myself a Christmas gift – one that I knew no one would be able to afford to give me as a gift anyways! I bought a keyboard with all the bells and whistles, and years later, I still have it and use it. It was not selfish of me to give that gift to myself. I worked hard for that money, and it was nice to be able to give myself a gift like that. Don’t go overboard with gifts for yourself, but try it every now and again. Happiness can come from giving gifts to others AND yourself.

      3. How Much Should You Spend?

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        The consumerism in our culture today is almost sickening when it comes to gift-giving. Both the giver and the recipient fall prey to associating the cost or value of the gift with how much the giver cares for the recipient. We have all heard the saying “It’s the thought that counts,” but is it true? If you do put thought into the gifts you give to people, this saying will be true for you.

        Again, gifts don’t have to be elaborate or expensive – they can be as simple as making someone’s favorite cookies, buying lunch for a co-worker from a restaurant you know they love. The key is to think about what the person needs or wants, and then provide it. Even if the gift isn’t perfect, the recipient will recognize that you are paying attention to what they talk about day to day, and truly care enough about them to try and give them something that they really do need or want. When they can see the thought behind your gift-giving, you will find the appreciation and happiness that comes from selfless giving.

        Try Gift-Giving Today!

        As you start your new habit of gift-giving, remember, what will improve your mental health is not the value of the gifts you give; it’s the act of giving that will bring you happiness. You may encounter some skeptical people along the way because many people still believe that everyone is basically selfish. Don’t give up on them – your real gift to these people is the act of kindness, that proves people can be selfless in today’s society. As you give your gifts, encourage others to do the same to their friends and family members. If everyone were to care about the needs of others more than their own needs, all of our needs would be met!

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        Last Updated on September 12, 2019

        12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

        12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

        Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

        While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

        What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

        Here are 12 things to remember:

        1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

        The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

        However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

        We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

        Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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        2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

        You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

        Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

        Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

        3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

        Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

        Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

        4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

        Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

        No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

        5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

        Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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        Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

        6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

        Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

        Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

        Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

        7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

        Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

        Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

        And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

        8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

        When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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        Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

        9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

        Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

        Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

        Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

        10. Journal During This Time

        Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

        This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

        11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

        It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

        The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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        Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

        12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

        The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

        Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

        When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

        Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

        Final Thoughts

        Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

        Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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        Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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