philosophy: when you give a gift, you’re giving a piece of your heart.

by: Alitza Wellstead

it’s been said before that it’s better to give than to receive—and we couldn’t agree more! according to a New York Times article by Tara Parker Pope, “gift giving has long been a favorite subject for studies on human behavior, with psychologists, anthropologists, economists and marketers all weighing in. they have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends.”

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gift giving probably started when the very first man (or woman— we’re equal-opportunity here at philosophy headquarters) gave someone in their circle a meal, blanket or rudimentary tool. bonds were strengthened and relationships cemented. and that’s obviously been carried over into the present day. every culture has their own gifting customs and rules, as well as special ways to celebrate holidays, milestones and accomplishments (gifts aren’t just based on calendar holidays as anyone who’s ever bought a graduation, shower or retirement gift can attest to).

for example, according to, in Mexico, the perfect hostess gift is always flowers—and never purple ones because those are for funerals. in Denmark, it’s customary to open up a gift immediately (we can get with that one!) as soon as you receive it. in Greece, you get gifts on your name days (name days are the birth date of the saint you were named after—and a wonderful day/reason to receive a gift!). and it’s notable that in many countries, sharp gifts are considered a no-no because it’s symbolic of severing a relationship (note to self!). according to Japanese tradition, you don’t get gifts on your birthday (until around 1950, everyone’s birthday was celebrated on the same day…new year’s day!). and don't forget: when giving flowers to someone in Spain, they should only be in odd numbers (no dozen roses for you!).

Parker Pope continues, “the social value of giving has been recognized throughout human history. for thousands of years, some native cultures have engaged in the potlatch, a complex ceremony that celebrates extreme giving. although cultural interpretations vary, often the status of a given family in a clan or village was dictated not by who had the most possessions, but instead by who gave away the most. the more lavish and bankrupting the potlatch, the more prestige gained by the host family.”

not every gift needs to be lavish or stretch your budget or finances; we believe that you have something to give to everyone: kindness, compliments and a smile are an easy way to help uplift and brighten someone’s day. because when you give a gift, you’re giving a piece of your heart—and in turn, it will make you feel good too. there’s no better feeling than knowing you made someone feel good—and that’s an amazing gift to give yourself (and it’s free!) according to Parker Pope, “psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift.”

the greatest part about giving a gift is delivering it free from expectation. remember, when you give genuinely from your heart, every gift is transformed into a meaningful act of kindness, love, friendship and grace. and that meaningful act will deepen and strengthen every relationship, connection and bond. the best advice for giving a gift comes from researchers at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention. they recommend that givers focus more on what the recipient would like, rather than focusing on their unique traits. or, “to make your friend, spouse or family member feel closer to you, give an experience.”

the act of giving a gift is a very personal and powerful way to express yourself. when you open your heart and share a piece of yourself, you’ll always get back more than you imagined.

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