The Gift of Happiness was born right around this time in 2012. Earlier that year, I had experienced a major shift in my life, and was eager to change how I did a lot of things, including holiday gift-giving.
Someone had pointed out to me that if it's more rewarding to give than to receive, the greatest gift you can give someone is not a present, but the opportunity for them to give in a meaningful way. So for Christmas that year, I gave people Giving Kits.
Inside the Giving Kits were things my friends and family members could give away, just to make other people happy: chocolate truffles, stamped cards and postcards, dollar bills with positive messages paper-clipped to them, and a handmade "Take What You Need" flyer. Later on, I started adding message cards.
Giving Kits were fun to give, and a lot of people encouraged me to keep developing the idea, which is how the Gift of Happiness began. Four years later, I am still struck by how simple it can be to reach out to people, how good it feels, and how much it matters.
If you're ever inspired to give a Giving Kit of your own, I would love for you to tell me about it. But I'm thinking there are other ways to spread the gift of happiness, too.
Maybe you give someone treats that they can bring into work and share with colleagues.
Maybe you buy someone two of the same gift: one for them, and another for them to give away. (I'm thinking these positive affirmation socks would be especially good for that. I saw someone wearing them at a workshop this fall and thought they were wonderful.)
Or maybe, instead of a gift receipt, you write someone a "permission to re-gift" card, like this:
Permission to Re-Gift
I got you this because I love you and it made me think of you, but I also know I don't always get gift-giving "right." If this is one of those times, please feel free to give this to someone else who would really enjoy it. No strings attached.
After all, what makes giving meaningful is usually not the objects themselves, or the money exchanged. It is the recognition that someone matters to you, and that you want them to be happy.
What other ideas do you have for how to give the gift of happiness this year? What else do you think would go well in a Giving Kit? Do you have a take on gift-giving that is different from mine?
I am interested in what you think!