Good to know Giving and taking: the psychology of gift-giving

Big or small, store-bought or homemade? All that matters is that it’s from the heart! Christmas time is also the time of giving, and every time you give a gift to someone else, you also give one to yourself: the gift of serotonin! 

From warming sabre-toothed tiger skins to self-crocheted hats: our gifts may have changed over the course of human history, but the idea behind them hasn’t. Since the beginning of time, gift-giving has been part of what it means to be human — and is usually just done for the sheer joy of it. And this feeling of joy can actually be proven psychologically. So, in case you didn’t already know, here are the benefits of doing something good for others!
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Attention is perhaps one of the best gifts you can give — whether in material or immaterial form. Being nice and kind to others increases your energy levels, prolongs your lifespan and can even reduce your sensation of pain and lower your blood pressure. This was discovered by a study by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Another finding: giving a gift triggers the same feelings as receiving a gift does. So, if you’re ever lacking in happiness, just make someone else happy!

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With gifts, you can express your appreciation of someone, because it demonstrates that you have invested time and energy in the person. This is also mirrored in the brain, where giving stimulates the same areas that are also responsible for our sense of belonging. And what’s more beautiful than feeling connected to others during these dark, gloomy days?
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To find the right gift for someone, we first have to put ourselves in their shoes. We have to figure out what they like and need right now. Gifts show that we empathise with someone. And the best thing about that is that it also encourages the other person to be empathetic.  
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According to Dr Gary Chapman, there are five languages through which we express love. One of them is giving. Through giving, we express our appreciation of and gratitude towards the other person. In that sense, gifts can “say” what we may not be able to say ourselves. So, if you don’t think that you’re that great at expressing your feelings verbally, then a gift could be a good alternative.

Are you still looking for a great gift for a loved one? How about something that you would make at least three people happy at the same time? A Valeriana voucher is not only a gift to your loved one and yourself, but you also empower one of our employees. Sounds good? It is! Just email us to and we’ll help you make others happy! 

By the way, you can make us especially happy with a donation that goes directly towards our community work and therefore our employees! If you’d like to do something good in that way, then please follow us here!

And if you suddenly can’t think of enough people to shower with serotonin, then we’ve got another great idea for you: until 19 December, we’re accepting gifts at our head office on Dammstrasse 58 in 8037 Zürich, which will then be distributed around Christmas to people with a refugee background. You can find out more about the “Züri schenkt” initiative here.

With this in mind: serotonin for all! 

To be continued:
  • You can read the article our story is based on here.
  • We’ve written about other ways to train your compassion muscle here.

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