The holidays are a time for giving and receiving presents, gifts and cheer.
Two new studies conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University show that giving to others makes us happier than giving to ourselves.
“If you want to sustain happiness over time, past research tells us that we need to take a break from what we’re currently consuming and experience something new,” says study co-author Ed O’Brien, of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
In an experiment, 96 college students were given five dollars each day for five days. The students were told to spend the money on exactly the same thing each day.
Some participants were assigned to spend the money on themselves and some on others such as a charity donation or a tip jar at a coffee shop.
The results of the daily spending challenge showed that students who had spent money on themselves self-reported that they felt decreasingly happy over the five-day period.
Participants who gave their money to someone else, however, continued to feel the same level of joy on the fifth day as they did on the first day.
Research findings were published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.