Over the past few weeks we’ve given you some cool, research-based tips for pumping up your parental happiness, like this one and this one and this one too. Today we’re giving you one more tip…because giving makes us happy!
You know how it feels to give someone a really great gift? You’ve gone out of your way to pick something you know they’re going to love. You anticipate them opening the gift even more than you anticipate opening any gifts of your own. And when they finally tear through all the tape and tissue paper and feast their eyes on your amazingly thoughtful surprise, the joyous look on their face makes you feel amazing!
That is exactly what today’s tip is all about.
Secret to Being a Happy Parent #4:
Get satisfaction out of giving.
When you’re a parent, giving is what you do best. (Or at least it’s what you do most often.) You give your time – playing, teaching, cooking, cleaning, and watching annoying cartoons. You give your money – for toys, clothes, birthday parties, cell phone family plans, and eventually ungodly amounts of college tuition. And you give your energy – rocking, carrying, piggyback riding, middle-of-the-night soothing, and emotionally supporting-slash-worrying for the rest of your life.
So wait…how exactly is this supposed to make you happy again?
Well it turns out that people who experience the feelings associated with gift giving more often actually end up being happier. Researchers investigated the relationship between spending money on oneself versus spending money on others and found that people are happier when they use their money to benefit others.
So learn to recognize how becoming a parent has brought out the inner philanthropist in you.
And then bask in it. Revel in it. Let yourself feel good about it.
Try to think about the things you do for your child in the same way that you think about giving a gift. When you present your child with a new toy, sticker or book he really wants, anticipate how happy you’re going to make him – and then soak up the look of delight on his face that you helped create. When you make him a healthy meal, get satisfaction from the knowledge that you’re making his body stronger. When you take a moment to truly pay attention to your child’s latest playground trick even though you’d much rather be zoning out in front of a screen full of status updates, savor the fact that you’ve put someone else’s adorable little needs before your own. Let it warm your heart.
And then go ahead and tweet about it.
You totally earned it.