There are no two ways about it: 2020 was a lot to take in. We forged ahead and made amazing things happen in the face of enormous uncertainty, but it wasn’t an easy task. In 2021, everyone’s looking to grow their happiness and share it with others. It’s only natural, and fortunately research has given us some solid ideas of where to start.
A 2008 study out of the Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia has shown that the act of giving gifts makes people happy. Even happier than if we spent the money on ourselves. So, to make everyone more cheerful, here are some smile-inducing (and stress-reducing) gift ideas for 2021.
Plants to calm and cheer
If you’ve never heard of the term ‘biophilia’ that’s OK, most people haven’t. It’s a theory that says humans naturally seek out and benefit from connections to nature. Research has backed up this theory, particularly with the study of houseplants. Houseplants can do everything from bettering our concentration to improving our well-being. A 2019 Japanese study showed that people with a small plant on their desk showed lower anxiety and stress levels after four weeks.
“Plants are the perfect gift to help us relax and be happy,” said Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising for leading gifting site 1-800-Flowers.com. “For folks looking for a way to connect in 2021, you can’t go wrong with the Prayer Plant, deemed our plant of the year. Its leaves fold together at night like praying hands, making it a wonderful reminder to be thankful and calm.”
The Red Maranta Prayer Plant also makes a great gift because it’s easy to care for. When gifting houseplants, you’re hoping to give your loved one something that will last for months or years to come. Choosing a hardy species will help make that a reality, while a finicky plant might backfire and cause more stress for first-time “plant parents.”
Flowers to energize
Another gift scientifically proven to drive happiness, according to a Rutgers University study, is a lovely bouquet of cut flowers. What’s more, flowers provide an instant burst of color. Bright colors have been shown to have their own positive psychological effects, from releasing “feel-good hormones” to increasing a person’s motivation.
One especially positive color is yellow. It can have uplifting, illuminating and energizing effects. Perhaps that’s why a yellow hue was chosen as one of Pantone’s colors of the year for 2021, and why it is featured prominently in the 1-800-Flowers.com flower of the year: sunflowers.
Gifting a sunflower bouquet is an easy way to spread happiness. Not only do they boast bright, cheerful colors, they’re also a large bloom that lasts more than a week after being cut.
The shared joy of gift-giving
At the end of the day, there are a lot of ways to do gift-giving right. In 2021, look for presents that channel a strong sense of optimism and positivity. After all, those are feelings we all craved more of during 2020.
Remember, whatever gifts you give, there’s happiness to be had all around. The joy of giving is equal to the joy of receiving, which makes gifting a sure-fire way to grow happiness in 2021.