“It is better to give than receive,” says a popular aphorism present in all cultures. And it is just as well, since many studies have shown that, in fact, we tend to be happier when we offer something, while the joy of receiving is more ephemeral.
It is the act of giving, not the acknowledgment, which makes us happy
Psychologists at the University of Rochester have wondered how the couple relationship affects giving and receiving. They recruited 175 couples married since seven months, and explained them that the experiment was intended to determine whether it is true the idea of the Dalai Lama, according to which “the compassionate concern for the others stimulates our own emotional state” .
For two weeks the participants kept a diary of their daily activities, in which they wrote about those situations where they had to put aside their desires to meet the needs of the partners. In addition, during the day they also had to describe their emotional state.
During the experiment, men and women received an average of 0.59 acts of compassion or love a day and offered an average of 0.65. These gestures included expressing tenderness to the partner, to show to appreciate it and change the personal plans to fit each other. Interestingly, women perceived less compassionate acts than their male partners.
Before starting the experiment, the researchers believed that it was essential that the receiver recognized the gesture of the donor, so that they felt truly appreciated. Also, they believed that the receiver would feel better when the gesture was recognized by both sides. But it didn’t work that way.
Psychologists discovered that for the person who allegedly made the compassionate gesture was not necessary that the other recognized it. These people felt better and happier when they did something for their partners, regardless that these would show their gratitude or not.
However, those who received the act had to be aware of the meaning it had for the other because only that way they were able to obtain maximum benefits. In fact, when there was not a verbal acknowledgment of the gesture, who offered showed an improvement of 45% in its mood, compared with those that were receiving.
This experiment shows that the simple act of giving, offering and give to the person we love, is already a sufficient reward and has a positive effect on our mood. On the contrary, in order to feel better when we receive, we must be aware of the sacrifice that makes the other.
Giving too much can weaken us; we also have the right to receive
Obviously, in a relationship it is also necessary to balance the forces. If only one offers, if it is always this person who cancels his plans to meet the other’s needs, it will come the time when this person feels that this relationship doesn’t fully meet his needs since it represents only a continue renunciation.
Therefore, even if giving brings huge benefits to our emotional state, it is important that, when the time comes, the other person is prepared to do the same for us. It is worth mentioning that this should not be a “showdown”, the act of giving has to be selfless, we need to perceive that we are reciprocated, loved and appreciated by the other person.
Reis, H. T. et. Al. (2017) Compassionate Acts and Everyday Emotional Well-Being Among Newlyweds. Emotion.