I know you (most likely) believe that you don't give gifts in order to receive a gift. But, the reality is, you always receive something when you give a gift. If we didn't get something from giving, then we would all be akin to the Grinch year-around.
So, why is it that we give gifts?
Neurological research tells us that we're wired to be generous.
Multiple parts of our brain work together so that we feel really good when we give a gift.
- The prefrontal cortex is an important part of the brain that assists with decision-making, especially altruistic and moral decisions.
- The ventral striatum functions as part of the reward system.
- The ventral tegmental area is the primary region where dopamine is released, helping to regulate the brain's reward and pleasure centers. This part of the brain is particularly important for cognition, motivation, orgasm, and the intense emotions related to love, among many other functions.
- The nucleus accumbens activates when experiencing pleasure.
The mesolimbic pathway, a.k.a., the reward pathway, connects the ventral tegmental area, which is located in the midbrain, to the nucleus accumbens.
Scientists have studied giving-related behaviors for years, and one thing continues to prove itself over and again: when one gives a gift altruistically, the reward centers of the brain activate, sending you all those good feelings.
By giving gifts, we always receive something: pleasure.
So, lesson learned: continue to be a giver.