Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.”Only a few pages long, the story may be O.
Henry’s most famous, its title almost a byword for a certain type of present.
It’s a generosity that presupposes generosity of time, not just of material expenditure: you may not have thought it out quite correctly, but at least you’ve taken the time to think.
True, a time investment may seem not worth the hassle. Generosity of time and thought may actually pay off in more ways than we think.
And would a more generous, so to speak, gift be even more rewarding than a less generous one?
While that remains to be tested directly, I’d be willing to bet that Jim and Della’s ventral tegmental area and striatum went all sorts of crazy when they picked out one another’s presents.
Say it, and chances are people will at once realize just what kind of gift you mean.
A gift that is the real embodiment of quality over quantity, the value of thought over any amount of expenditure.
Specifically, while monetary rewards activated the mesolimibic reward system, including the dorsal and ventral striatum and the ventral tegmental area—as would be expected of something that gives us positive reward—when people donated money to a charity, the same network showed even activity—and the activity spread to the subgenual area (implicated in social attachment), which had remained inactive in the pure monetary reward choices.
While we may not always agree, our brains seem to suggest that the joy of being a gift's giver may eclipse that of being its recipient.