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This year, more so than ever, we’re craving happiness for the holidays, and while our holidays may not look like they have in years past, that doesn’t mean they have to be less enjoyable or meaningful. 2020 could be one of the happiest holiday seasons yet. With a little creativity and a lot of heart, you can take the best parts of this season and create happiness for yourself and others.

Alex Perry from Practically Speaking shares five ways, giving creates happiness for all.

1. Giving makes us feel happy

You know the feeling of doing something wonderful and unexpected for someone. It feels fantastic! That’s why we love Christmas so much. Research from Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton shows that students felt happier when they gave money vs. keeping money for themselves, even though they predicted they’d feel happier with the money. Giving creates an instant boost of happiness! And you don’t have to give money to experience the benefit-you can give time, skills, help, appreciation, or advice and feel the same effect.

2. Giving promotes social connection

When we give, it prompts others to do the same. It’s called the reciprocity rule, we tend to pay back what’s been given to us by others. This creates a feeling of being socially connected, which makes us feel happy. You can create this feeling in lots of safe ways this year, like paying it forward by buying the coffee for the person in line behind you, starting a card exchange in your neighborhood, or sending notes of appreciation to the staff at your children’s school.

3. Giving is good for our health

The healthier we are, the happier we are! Research suggests that giving increases our health by reducing our stress, contributing to many major health problems. Staying healthy in 2020 is a top priority, so finding ways to give of yourself while still maintaining social distancing is key. Sending a meal to someone who is shut-in, donating to a local charity, or providing assistance to a local animal shelter is a great way to give and stay safe.

4. Giving boosts gratitude

Gratitude is one of the key ingredients for happiness. Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering happiness researcher, suggests cultivating gratitude in everyday life is essential for increasing personal happiness. This year try keeping a gratitude journal or start a gratitude jar with your kids to boost your feelings of happiness.

5. Giving is contagious

Giving doesn’t just impact the recipient; it sends a ripple throughout our communities and our lives. When we watch others give, it inspires and encourages others to do the same. Giving is one thing we definitely can’t spread enough of this year and in 2021. Happiness for the holidays is within your reach; you just need to give a little to get started.

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