Your brain on gift giving: Why it feels so darn good to get it right!


Generosity is part of what makes us human


Why DOES it feel so darn good? What’s happening to the brain? Synapses are sparking that make us feel good to know we are connected to others in community and understanding. Research across psychology and neuroscience shows that giving gifts can spread joy for both the giver and the recipient. When we pick a gift that is “right” — well received and authentically appreciated —  it reinforces our connection to that person, shows we know them and value them. So, we can experience as much joy from giving as we do from receiving — maybe more! Savor both — that feeling when you receive something meaningful, and the comfort of knowing you chose well when you give a gift that clearly brings another joy. 

Generosity has been crucial to the survival of the human species. It makes sense that this spirit of generosity would be beneficial from an evolutionary perspective, observes Elizabeth Dunn, Ph.D., chief scientist for financial technology company Happy Money and a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “Our ability to work together and help each other was absolutely essential to our survival as a species.”

Thankfully, the best gift doesn’t have to be material
One exceedingly underrated gift is much simpler and cheaper than you think: gratitude. 

“Research shows that people absolutely love hearing expressions of gratitude. It makes people super happy,” Dunn explains. So, if you’re having a hard time thinking of a gift for someone or you’re not in a position to spend a lot of money, “writing really lovely thank you notes to people is actually a great gift in itself.” And sending an actual handwritten thank you note for receiving a gift is not just quaint, it shows you took the time to personally connect. And that is something to be grateful for. Enjoy more at here

13 Simple, Non-Materialistic Ways to Find Joy Around the Holidays

Here are some ideas for cost-free activities and traditions that can bring you delight, connection, and happiness this time of year.

Around the holidays, we hear songs about joy—whether that’s “joy to the world,” or “tidings of comfort and joy.”
There are ways to find joy that don’t cost a dime, and can perhaps help us to find a way through bad feelings. As a recent study by found, appreciating our everyday experiences may be an important pathway to meaning in life.

Echoing Greater Good, however you feel about the season in general, we hope you’ll be able to find small moments of joy in your everyday life as the year comes to a close. Here’s some brief stories from the staff of Greater Good that might warm your heart. Themes encompassing seeing other people’s joy, slowing down, taking some time at the beach, singing and reconnecting with friends and family. Take the time to share these simple stories. 

The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2022
Another from

Here’s some the most provocative and influential findings published during this past year. It’s hard to talk about individual well-being these days without talking about what’s going on in the world, whether that’s the mental health fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, political polarization, or global crises like climate change. 

Here’s the top five of the 10 findings that made a difference in lifting people’s spirits

  1. Appreciating everyday experiences can enhance our sense of meaning in life
  2. Leaning into uncomfortable feelings could help us achieve bigger life goals
  3. Our personalities changed rapidly during the pandemic
  4. It’s not uncommon to experience high levels of well-being after mental health problems
  5. Don’t underrate the power of kindness, inside and out Dive in here.

Scientific American: The Biggest Health and Biology Breakthroughs of 2022
From reviving dead pig organs to measuring viruses in our poop, here are some of the most intriguing medical advances of the year

It wasn’t all bad news in 2022. In fact, biology and medicine saw exciting advances across fields as diverse as epidemiology, human evolution and artificial intelligence. Here are some of the discoveries that gave us hope for humanity and the future of human health. 

  • We got updated versions of COVID vaccines 
  • Discoveries in human evolution won a Nobel Prize 
  • We learned that indoor air quality matters
  • AI solved one of the biggest problems in biology: predicting the three-dimensional structure of proteins from their amino acid sequence (they could help lead to new pharmaceutical drugs and more sustainable crops) Find more here. 


Sponsored by Applied General Agency 

Good to Know!

Variability in Medicare direct contracting savings illustrates promises, pitfalls of value-based care

Accountable care organizations’ (ACO) net savings rates ranged from -29.4% to 29.2% in the 2021 Global and Professional Direct Contracting Model, spotlighting the difficulties of delivering value-based care, where just a few sick patients or a substandard operational model can significantly skew results, experts say. Read Article

Holiday Scams Abound

Know what to look for and how to report 

Scammers frequently target the older and other more vulnerable members of our communities. They pretend they are from Social Security or another government agency to steal money or personal information. Recognizing the signs of a scam can help avoid falling victim to one. These scams primarily use the telephone, but scammers may also use email, text messages, social media, or U.S. mail. 

If you receive a questionable call, text, or email, hang up or don’t respond and report it at Scammers frequently change their methods with new tactics and messages to trick people. We encourage you to stay up to date on the latest news and advisories by following SSA’s Office of the Inspector General on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook or subscribing to receive email alerts. Read more here. Link to REPORT A SCAM.

Sponsored by Cigna + Oscar: Small Group Health Insurance

Time’s running out! Switch your small business client’s health insurance today
Cigna’s trusted network. Oscar’s high-touch support. Get to know Cigna + Oscar

Employees get to choose a plan that will meet their needs, whether it’s the strength of a national network or the convenience of local doctors. With Cigna + Oscar, your client’s team gets their very own Care Team – so that they have full support in managing their health insurance account. Learn more

Cigna + Oscar offers access to great doctors alongside a new model of supportive care and innovative technology — all at an affordable price. Visit to get appointed to sell Cigna + Oscar today.

Cigna + Oscar coverage is insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. CA: benefits administered by Oscar Health Administrators. Other states: benefits administered by Oscar Management Corporation. Pharmacy benefits are provided by Express Scripts, Inc.


No Surprises Here! Most U.S. workers value time off, flexibility and paid leave benefits

The top three non-insurance employee benefits U.S. workers want are paid time off (PTO), flexible work options, and paid family leave, according to new research from employee-benefits leader Unum.

Although the generations differ in their top three priorities, when opened to the top five, there is one common denominator: emergency savings. Sixty-four percent do not have access to an emergency savings option through their employer. This benefit ranks third for Boomers (25%), third for Gen X (32%), and second for Gen Z (37%). Read Article from UNUM GROUP

These are 3 of the 15 non-insurance benefits for U.S. workers: (Link for the list of 15)

Forget Productivity. The 4-Day Work Week Has a Greater Benefit that Solves a Major Problem. It just might be the solution you’ve been looking for.

According to a report published by Resume Genius, a major motivation for employers to implement the four-day workweek is to improve employee well-being and reduce burnout. But below the surface of reducing burnout is the overarching goal: to retain-and attract-staff. Though the results may not show an increase in productivity, the results also do not show a loss, according to USA Today. But increased productivity isn’t the only selling point for the four-day work week-nor is it the main benefit. Dig in here.


Keep the MASKS ON! Are Indoor Holiday Parties Safe As COVID, Flu And RSV Spread? Three experts weigh in

According to Dr. Matthew Eldridge, chief of infectious diseases for Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento: Gathering outdoors is safer than indoors; if there is an indoor gathering you want the space to be well ventilated — open doors and windows, run HVAC systems, and install high-quality air filters. Properly worn masks remain an effective option to reduce the risk of respiratory viral infections. Sacramento Bee: Read more


Sponsored by TWH Annuities and Insurance Marketing Inc.

Fed Hike: How It Affects Your Money – From the Experts

Interest rates have risen for the 7th time this year, having important implications for investors, savers, and homeowners. See our full analysis of what the Fed rate rise means for your money.

Ceridian Study Finds Financial Stress Among North Americans Highest Since 2008

82% of employed North Americans think about personal finances at work, resulting in an estimated US$664B in lost productivity

Results from a Ceridian study revealed that 61% of employed North Americans are more stressed about their finances today than they were a year ago – and are experiencing the highest level of financial stress since the financial crisis of 2008.
Full article


Mental Health in California

Using the most recent data available, CHCF’s 2022 Almanac provides an overview of mental health statewide: disease prevalence, suicide rates, supply and use of treatment providers, and mental health in the criminal justice system. Dive deeper here.

BOOK: The Burnout Challenge

Managing People’s Relationships With Their Jobs

How can we stop the burnout epidemic? In the book “The Burnout Challenge,” scientists Christina Maslach and Michael Leiter explain the causes of burnout and how to counteract it — not just individually, but on a widespread basis.

While many employers pressure employees to prevent burnout in themselves with self-care (mindfulness training, exercise, therapy, and more), Maslach and Leiter argue that workplaces need to change, too. The feelings of exhaustion, disengagement, and lack of efficacy associated with burnout fester in places that don’t provide workers with reasonable workloads, appropriate recognition, supportive colleagues, a sense of autonomy and meaning, or fair treatment. 

The authors said: “If you take these lessons to heart and start putting them into practice, you can make progress toward making the experience of work more fulfilling, motivating, and viable—for yourself or, as a manager, for others in your organization.” Read more


  • Jan. 10, OCAHU Legislative Updates from Shore to Shore, East Anaheim Community Center. More info
  • Jan. 18, 10:30A – 11:30 am PST, CAHIP Annual Legislative Update Online Webinar. Register
  • Jan. 24,  10:00 AM to 1:00 pm PST, NAHU Live Virtual Corporate Wellness Certification. Register
  • Feb. 9, 8:00 am PST, OCAHU Annual Sales Symposium, Spring Field Banquet Center – Fullerton. More info.
  • Feb. 23, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm PST by Zoom, 70th Annual Will G. Farrell Award & Leadership Recognition Event, sponsored by NAIFA-LA and FSP. Info:
  • March  4, 9:00 am to 1:30 pm PST, by zoom: WIFS-LA Women’s Forum “Embrace Empowerment” Info:
  • March 13-15, Ellevate Women’s Leadership 2023 Summit, JW Marriott just outside Las Vegas. Register here. 
  • April 11-14, Virtual Fourth National Medicare Advantage Summit by Global Health Care, Virtual/Online Live Video; Media Partners: Harvard Health Policy Review, Health Affairs and Inside Health Policy. Phone: (800) 503-0078.,
  • May 8-10, CAHIP Capitol Summit, Sacramento. Info.

December Print Magazine feature



The new year brings a number of new legislative and regulatory issues that brokers need to be aware of in order to guide clients through compliance. On the national front, there are …

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