How to Give the Perfect Gift

How to Give the Perfect Gift

I’ve realized that gifting is more than exchanging objects; it’s about strengthening a special connection. But finding the perfect gift during a special occasion is difficult. Especially for me.

I struggle to find things that resonate with my friends and family. Because of this, I have used cash and gift certificates as a crutch. But, to mix things up, and to give something meaningful, I’ve started taking a more personal approach. And it’s made a huge difference in my relationships.


The next time you’re searching for the perfect gift, keep these five tips in mind.

Observe Before Giving

The number one rule (by far) is to observe the person’s wants and needs before visiting the gift shop. By basing your gift off of little cues and notes you’ve taken, you’ll give your friend not just a gift, but a reminder of how closely you listen, and how much you care about the little things that really matter to them. That’s how you keep the connection strong.


Get specific

Not many people pay attention to the details. But if keep an eye out for the specifics, you’ll get insight into things your friend actually needs–and those always make for the best gifts.

For example, knowing that your friend is a travel bug gives you the opportunity to purchase travel bags, passport holders, immune-supporting supplements, and hundreds of other items that will improve their journeys. The same holds true if that person is a rock climber, or a bird watcher, or gem hunter.


Also, it never hurts to know the stone that corresponds to your gift recipient’s birth month. That opens a wide range of meaningful gifts, like necklaces, rings, paperweights, bracelets, anklets, and even mineral soaps!

Give for Good Luck

Depending on the occasion, you might want to pick up a good luck gift. These come in handy for housewarming or graduation parties, because you want to give that person hope for their next phase of life. Do you not know of any good luck gifts that aren’t rabbits feet? Choose from this list:


  • Palm trees (for new houses)
  • Amulets (bracelets, necklaces, etc)
  • Four-leaf clover pendants
  • Horseshoes
  • Frankincense and Myrrh
  • Pineapples (an old English tradition)
  • A fine aged scotch whiskey (like Glenlivet–Crown Royal works in a pinch)
  • Tony Robins’s ‘Money: Master the Game
  • Any one of Zig Ziglar’s motivational CDs.

Gift With a Good Cause In Mind

Learn about any charities they support so you connect through their dearest causes. For example, you can donate in their name, or even provide funding for a startup they’ve been working on. You just have to ask questions, listen, and determine what’s meaningful to them.

Send Them on an Adventure

Studies show that people are happiest when they spend money on experiences rather than material items. I believe this holds true for gifting too. If your loved one hasn’t had the opportunity to travel, send them on a trip. With so many discount sites–like Groupon and LivingSocial–you can find incredible experiences at reasonable prices. Are you low on cash? Send them to a local restaurant, or a show, or a wine tasting tour.


Some people are natural born gift givers. I used to envy them, and I resigned myself to giving bad gifts. But after I discovered the simple tips presented in this article, my gift-giving experiences are better than I could have imagined, and I feel that much closer to the ones I love. All it takes is a little observation, personalization, getting specific, some luck, choosing the causes that are close to them, and being open to adventure.

Featured photo credit: via

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Rizvan Ullah

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]


Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.


In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]



Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.


Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.


In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via


[1] US National Library of Medicine: Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain
[2] Daily Mail: Nursing a broken heart? How taking a paracetamol could dull the pain of rejection
[3] Mother For Life: Oxytocin’s Role
[4] Psychology Today: Facebook and Your Brain
[5] Alex Korb: The Upward Spiral

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