According to the work of Adam Grant, we make four mistakes trying to be happy.
1) we compare too much. Constantly comparing our happiness to times past prevents us from enjoying the moment. During the holiday season this can be an even bigger trap to fall into if you find yourself comparing what you give with what you receive or what others receive.
2) we overestimate the impact of life circumstances. We think getting a great gift or a big promotion will make us happier, but these things quickly become the new treadmill we run on.
3) we pursue happiness alone. Studies show that being too focused on ourselves undermines happiness. Studies also show that we derive a great sense of pleasure from giving to others, even small gestures of appreciation, and that this has the power to change our holiday experience.
4) we chase intense happiness. According to research, happiness is driven by frequency and not intensity of positive emotions.
So during this holiday season, why not focus on giving simple gifts of kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, friendship and love. And if you want to add a little something that is a symbol of your feelings for another, give it from your heart.