The adventure of Christmas shopping is upon us. How do we find gifts that create better and stronger relationships? The key is to know the difference between Hedonic and Eudaimonic well-being.
Most Christmas presents are aimed at creating or increasing pleasure. This intensifies hedonic well-being (think: weekend in Vegas). Other presents help to create a relaxed, grounded connection with nature and people. This energizes eudaimonic well-being (think: weekend in the mountains).
When we feed hedonic well-being we fuel our desire for more. When we feed eudaimonic well-being we activate gratitude and contentment with what we have. So, how do we do this? Here are my favorite ways to fuel eudaimonic well-being:
- Give a gift that triggers a celebration of old, fun adventures and memories. For example, pull some pictures together from a recent trip and make a short scrap book. This process is easy if you can use pre-formatted picture books on sites like Shutterfly or Snapfish.
- Give a gift that invites a cooperative experience with each other. With small children consider a puzzle or model that will require help putting together. If older consider an event, such as a concert, show or overnight getaway. Be sure the gift includes all required planning (such as transportation and babysitters).
- Create something that communicates love. Children can be encouraged to create a drawing or artwork that communicates gratitude for the person. Adults can take the time to write a heartfelt letter. Simply share things you appreciate, such as favorite qualities, things the other person does that we take for granted.
- Come together to bless somebody who needs it. Consider buying a present from a fair-trade company that supports the developing world, such as 10,000 Villages. Or, buy a gift for someone in need. When our kids were young we skipped big presents and instead bought a water buffalo for a poor family through Heifer International. Another family I know skips the gift exchange and pools the money saved into a fund. At Christmas dinner each family makes a pitch for their favorite charity. Everyone votes and the winning charity gets one, big check. This captures the Christmas spirit by highlighting the many good things that are being done for the poor in our world.
Yes, Christmas is here. It’s time to take charge and feed our deepest desires to love and care for each other by fueling eudaimonic well-being.