What’s on my kid’s wishlist: not dopamine
Building a wishlist, especially for my kid, is a daunting task. Not because I can’t think of what to include but because I can think of so many things. There is always that nagging doubt in my head: What about each of the knickknacks she has asked for? What if someone comes up with a better gift idea? Most importantly, what if I am missing the chance to expose her to this or that toy that is going to change the course of her life?!
Then I step back, rewind, and remind myself that I’ve missed out on a universe of things as a kid that my kid already has experienced. I have still managed to live a full and fulfilling life. In fact, the things that I have missed out on have shaped me just as much as those that I have received. Yet when it comes to saying no to the 100th thing our kids want or we are told should have, we hesitate. ‘What if that’s a game changer?’
The ‘What Might Be’ Effect
Instead what if we ask ourselves ‘what if it’s not’? A recent study shows that by training our kids to revel in the anticipation of new things, we inadvertently trigger the addictive ‘what might be’ chemical, Dopamine, instead of helping them appreciate what they have.
Therefore by teaching our kids to continuously chase the unknown we get them to “obsess over things and then lose interest when they have them”. The pleasure comes from the novelty, the experience of something different. So if they want to feel the pleasure again, they “can’t keep having more of the same old thing.” By flooding them with stuff, we are teaching our kids to seek new and novel all the time.
More Stuff. Fewer Real Connections.
By giving kids tons of stuff with no deeper intention, we are also taking away from them the ability to enjoy sustained “sensory experiences like hearing, smelling, tasting, touching; and emotional experiences” like being a part of a ‘community that cares’ culture.
The study also suggests that by always focusing on what’s next, we are more likely to be poor at social interactions, becoming workaholics and neglecting to empathize with people we interact with.
Here’s What’s on My Kid’s Fig & Wally Wishlist
Fig & Wally’s approach to gifting advocates instilling in our kids (the future of the world) and in ourselves (the keepers of the future) a sense of “mindfulness” which starts with gifting but affects every other aspect of our lives. We focus on the end goal rather than the never-ending rush for what we could have.
So whats on my kid’s Fig & Wally wishlist this holiday season? Currently, I’ve narrowed it down to
- An experience in Flying iFLY
- A model airplane building kit, Revell 1: 48 F15E Strike Eagle, that my kid and I can build together
- Book: The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, since at this moment she is fascinated by the concepts of kindness and airplanes that she learnt from The Berenstain Bears: Kindness Counts.
Little Goes a Long Way
I know she is missing out on a lot of things that might make her happy today but I’m at peace knowing that not having all those things will fuel her imagination to build dreams from what she has.
-Priya, Co- Founder, Fig & Wally
Article cited: There’s a Chemical In Your Brain That Makes You Want More, By Shyla Love. It interviews The Molecule of More, Daniel Z. Lieberman, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University, and Michael E. Long, a speech writer and professor at Georgetown University.