But, for kids, that can be a tough lesson to learn unless parents expose them to the art of giving at an early age.
A visit to the toy store can be loads of fun for an 8 year-old, especially this time of year.
But a recent shopping trip I took with my son Nicholas had a special purpose - we were buying Christmas toys for a family less fortunate. We would never meet this family, but we were given a list of the children's names and ages as part of a holiday outreach program.
It also gave my son a chance to experience the true meaning of the holiday season.
Nicholas even said "There are kids who don't get toys. Let's go shopping!"
Experts say the "spirit of generosity" is something parents should reinforce in their children during the holidays, when youngsters can become preoccupied with what they're going to get, instead of how they could give.
< "We need to teach our children... of a lifetime," said Dr. Kim Logio of St. Joseph's University.
> Dr. Kim Logio of St. Joseph's University says teaching children to give back will allow them to experience the good feelings that come from being generous while also making them feel better about themselves, heighten their self-esteem, self-awareness and even allow them to appreciate all that they have.
< "It is teaching them.... get joy from giving," said Dr. Logio.
> Experts say, like everything else, children learn by modeling the behavior of their parents.
So, the best way to teach generosity is by setting an example and exposing them to various acts of giving back - whether its feeding the hungry, donating clothes to the needy or, in my case, having my son pick out toys for children he will never know.
Even if many of the toys he chooses may be gifts he's hoping to find under the tree.