I will never forget a moment of vacation a few years ago , when I found myself in a discussion with my youngest daughter on her gift list ( which, incidentally , I do not believe in. In theory , no one ever wants to my children to make lists of things I want for Christmas and Hanukkah . , but we went to see Santa Claus when they were younger , and ready to ask for a gift, so I never put my money where my mouth. )
However, my daughter was in the back of the car rattle off all the things he wanted for Christmas – excited, as if it were a done deal and she would soon get everything you ever hoped for. And I was desperately trying to do damage control : Santa only brings a toy ( ! ” No- ah, MOM , You have brought three last year ” ), Santa Claus can not bring live animals ( passionately wanted an air knife ) If your grandparents you get Uggs instead of Payless knock-offs, you will not get all the other gifts from them ( lost economic logic of a child of seven years).
I thought I was going to lose my mind . I tried to create a special holiday traditions that foster positive emotions such as gratitude and altruism – traditions which would sense the connection and positive memories . and everything seemed to be falling on deaf ears. My kids have had wish lists longer than they were . Even my parents were struggling to go to church on Christmas Eve, because they thought it would be cut in the exchange of gifts.
know I’m not alone. But if we do not want our children to be mounted in a consumer frenzy , and enjoy other things , why this happens year after year ?
One answer , of course, is that , at some level , our society has come to believe that our economy depends on a gift event and that holidays would be fun without all the gifts . I’ve been thinking about this and other forces at work in this time of year.
‘s why I think we want , I want , I want a lot of things to come.
1 . systematically confuse gratification , which is fleeting, with true lasting happiness or joy .
For seven years ( and sometimes for 37 years ) is a complex concept : we can feel gratified when we have something new – we might even have a shot of pleasure – but that gratification is not really the same thing as happiness.
Think about how you feel gratitude, compassion , inspiration and wonder. Think about how you feel when you are madly in love with your new baby or love towards your spouse longtime . Those are profound , positive emotions, and to me, are the positive emotions that are the foundation of a happy life.
Gratification still feels good . It is essential for the systems of reward and motivation of our brain. But when it is confused with true happiness , we think we can not be happy – or that our children will not be happy – without all the presents and shopping.
2 . our brains are programmed to pursue rewards.
Happiness is a reward. It’s not that they are built to pursue happiness , because we are . But the key word here is pursuing : integrated reward of our brains pushes us to all the carrots , large and small, that are out there dangling. We have everything that appears as a reward , and our children will too .
When our brain identifies a possible reward, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. What’s the rush of dopamine drives us towards the reward. Dopamine creates a real desire carrot dangling in front of us .
It makes us more susceptible to other temptations , because when we decide we want a cashmere sweater , a cookie there suddenly looks pretty good and so do those dishes fresh Pottery Barn . High levels of dopamine boost the appeal of instant gratification (and it is for this reason that suddenly can not stop checking your email ) and make us less concerned about the long-term consequences ( such as a credit card account ) .
Unfortunately, our brain does not distinguish between awards that actually will make us happy and the things that do not. Dopamine drives us to pursue all alone .
3 . all the carrots being dangled out there are dizziness .
They do not call neuromarketing . Believe me , advertisers know how to stimulate one race to dopamine in our children.
And as a child to pursue a reward in December? They put on their wish list , then there nag endlessly until they break down and admit that, yes, sometimes Santa bring you more of a gift. Or that every night of Hanukkah can bring a little ‘ something. ”
So when our children seem greedy or materialistic at this time of year, this does not mean that we have failed to instill good values in them or are spoiled and bratty . This means that they are human beings and that they are under siege from a stroke -induced dopamine marketing .
This is an important lesson for our children to learn ! Here’s how we can help : we can teach them to recognize what makes them want , want , want . We can teach them to understand when they are manipulated by advertisers.
It ‘ difficult, but I have seen that it is possible : the other day, my daughter was just watching TV in a Thai restaurant , and said, ” Wow , I know that business would have to make me feel like those pants , and it worked . i really want those pants . feel that I could be happier if I had my pants. “Of course , she still pants, but at least she was gaining some insight into his thinking. He could not avoid the rush of dopamine, but she could react to it .