The Gift of Giving
In an article in the New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope has said “that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Indeed, psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift” (from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/11/health/11well.html).
A focus on receiving
This is probably something you already suspected but knowing that, it is surprising to note the extent that we focus on the receiving of gifts, not the giving. There is a certain mystery to that, as it is the giving of the gift that can take the planning, cost and effort. We don't give much thought to receiving.
We allow then to show that they care
In allowing someone to give us a gift we allow them to show us that they care. We allow them to keep us in mind, to wonder what we would like and not like. Most importantly, we allow them to anticipate the happiness that they will feel when they think about us opening the gift. Of course, not all gift giving comes with some noble intent; some of it seems to be about mutual trading, obligation and one-upping the other.
We can’t help that, it’s just human nature. But the more opportunities that we give other people to give us gifts, the more opportunities that they have to, one day, really think about us and experience the joy of thinking “I think they might really like that!”.
So what is the best way to make it okay for someone to experience the joy of giving us a gift? By thinking of them, by wondering what they might want, of anticipating them receiving … in other words, by giving them a gift.
– Tim Hill