And would a more generous, so to speak, gift be even more rewarding than a less generous one?
While that remains to be tested directly, I’d be willing to bet that Jim and Della’s ventral tegmental area and striatum went all sorts of crazy when they picked out one another’s presents.
It’s a generosity that presupposes generosity of time, not just of material expenditure: you may not have thought it out quite correctly, but at least you’ve taken the time to think.
True, a time investment may seem not worth the hassle. Generosity of time and thought may actually pay off in more ways than we think.
After all, isn’t it easier to just ask what someone wants, or go online to check what they want, and leave it at that? Not only is the gift recipient likely to be appreciative, but we ourselves may benefit.
Generosity—which in this definition actually includes generosity of time and generosity that is both unexpected and spontaneous (in stark contrast to the list-variety of present)—is one of the top three predictors of a successful marriage, a surprising addition to the expected culprits, sexual intimacy and commitment. It can help us actually be happier and see the world as an overall better place.
As Ariely puts it, “Instead of picking a book from your sister's Amazon wish list, or giving her what you think she should read, go to a bookstore and try to think like her.
It's a serious social investment.”Giving—and thoughtful, generous giving at that—may be more rewarding than receiving on numerous levels, from the neural, to the personal, to the social.
Say it, and chances are people will at once realize just what kind of gift you mean.
A gift that is the real embodiment of quality over quantity, the value of thought over any amount of expenditure.