When we receive a gift, our brain is flooded with dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin, neurotransmitters also known as happiness hormones. It is natural to think then that the arrival of the end of the yearwith the exchange and donation of treats, is also a door to be happy.
Experts heard by Sheet, however, claim that the feeling of joy is not a permanent state. The most common, incidentally, is that these episodes vary in intensity according to each person, and may even be amplified by quality human interaction during the Natal.
“There are lots of little parts of the brain that are activated when you feel joy, which is one of our six basic emotions,” says psychologist Yuri Busin, PhD in cognitive neuroscience. Thus, when gifts are exchanged, for example, the brain tissue receives a flood of dopamine, generating well-being in the body.
This sensation can be amplified by gestures such as hugs, doing volunteer work or simply being in contact with people, actions that act as oxytocin activators.
“There are studies that show that experiences are much more effective than physical presence to promote feelings of happiness and joy, but this will depend on the value that person attributes to that” says Busin, who is founder of the online clinic Diálogo Positivo.
This “value” consists of the amount of emotion and connection attributed to the event. “Self-awareness is the key to having moments of joy,” says Busin.
The psychologist also points out that happiness and joy are different from each other, the first being a mental state almost impossible to achieve while the second is fragmented into recurring flashes that provide well-being.
Another point of reflection on exchanging gifts is to recognize what makes us happier: giving or receiving. “Gift exchange is embedded in our culture. Many people have difficulty receiving a gift. Giving is extremely rewarding, because you think about the other, but learning to receive is also important for our life”, reinforces Busin.
The happiness obtained when we are presented with gifts is connected to pleasure and, consequently, also to frustration. However, when the reaction is disproportionate, psychiatrist Jessica de Araujo Martani recommends being aware of inner feelings, often unrelated to the situation.
“Giving presents stimulates our reward mechanism, activating the dopaminergic pathways responsible for our sensation of pleasure, but keeping our mental health up to date is the best way to know whether the frustration comes from the object or from previous mood swings”, points out Martani .
Martani, who is an observer for the neuroscience program at Columbia University in New York, says that sadness and isolation during the holidays can be indicators that something is not right. “When we are in a depressed mood, it is common to experience a loss of pleasure. Thus, regardless of the object received, there is less activation of dopaminergic pathways and, consequently, less pleasure”, justifies the doctor.
A simple gift can also help to reevaluate and understand the relationship with the person who gave the gift or the circumstances in which it happened.
Experts also warn that when social dynamics deprive the meaning of exchanging gifts, this does not go unnoticed by our brain, leading to less satisfactory reactions, that is, we feel less happy than we could.
“Consumerism interferes with a person’s life. [do presente] and, when it becomes common, it no longer attributes the feeling of joy, of happiness”, says Busin.
Buying something to be sad or to keep yourself happy is another pitfall. “Instead of solving the problem, it creates a vicious cycle. The effect of the purchase ends up passing very quickly and does not solve the real reason for sadness”, says the psychologist.
One tip, according to Martani, is to work on the personal notion that the price should not limit the impact of a gift on our lives, once the ideas of power and consumption are built.
“Unconsciously, these sociocultural standards are giving us beauty regulations, which are luxury items, but the gesture of giving and receiving objects goes beyond consumerism”, says the psychiatrist.
For her, we should focus on the affection and gratitude involved in the gesture of being presented and giving gifts to truly achieve happiness. “In addition to the monetary value, there is a symbolism that permeates the act itself and often this is of extreme value, regardless of how much was paid for the object.”