When my colleague posted this photo on her FB page while attending an event last week at the Chopra Center, I knew I wanted to blog about this. In the 1970’s, my dad had a bumper sticker on his car that said, “Have you hugged your kids today?” My dad was a bit of a hippie and had moved from the the big city (Miami) to live off the land in Vermont. He was a huge hugger and I often remember him saying, “I need my hug today,” before I would get out of his car in the morning at school – I’d roll my eyes as only a 16-year-old would and squirm away from his embraces as quickly as possible. Later in my life, he told me that a hug whether given to a friend, colleague or acquaintance was something that made him feel alive, connected and engaged with another human being.
I guess I did actually learn a lesson from him because I have become quite a hugger myself. I hug people wherever I go, both men and women and you know what, I am still not 100% sure it’s always okay. I’ll usually say something like, “I’m a hugger” when they stick out their hand to shake and I open my arms to hug them instead. I guess it’s just who I am and part of my personal values because I somehow feel it’s my mission in the world to add valuable, authentic, heartfelt connections with people in a real and physical way, including giving out hugs.
A few years ago, I learned about Arié Moyal, who founded HugTrain in 2009. His mission was to create awareness of issues surrounding mental health – especially during the holiday season when many people feel particularly disconnected. This year, he held his 7th annual HugTour crisscrossing North America from mid December 2015 until early January 2016 raising spirits one hug at a time! I have loved his concept ever since I first learned about it.
I believe the world needs more kindness in the world and if a hug is one way to give of yourself and connect with another human being, I am all for it? What do you think? Are hugs the new handshake? When would it be completely inappropriate to give someone a hug instead of shaking their hand? I can think of a few scenerios but luckily more likely than not I put myself in situations where I can give hugs out liberally.