InterACTing with Awareness
As we return to “normal” life we are definitely going to have some awkward transitions, as we remember how our actions have an effect on another person. I hope as we move forward some of our old ways to interACT will slowly resume.
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 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 the car in the morning at school. I’d roll my eyes as only a 15-year -old would and squirm away from his embraces as quickly as possible.
Later in 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 he was ahead of his time because the research definitely shows how beneficial hugs are on our health.
Most Lives Have Been Devoid of Hugs
The past year of the pandemic left most people’s lives without hugs. Some may have been lucky enough to be in quarantine with another person. But I’ve heard stories from colleagues and friends who were living alone, and that the hardest part of this year was the lack of a physical embrace of another human being. One colleague even shared early on in the pandemic that he had discovered tree hugging, and found it to be an unexpected comfort in these strange times.
As the months passed there were stories about loneliness, isolation, and how the lack of physical contact was taking its toll on people. The stories about husbands and wives separated at long term care facilities and grandparents not being able to hug their grandkids, was heartbreaking. There were some very creative plastic hug protectors set up to help allow for some hugging opportunities.
Taking Kindness into Consideration as we Transition Forward, Together.
Luckily, as vaccines are spreading throughout the country I have started to see the most beautiful stories. Grandparents finally ending the year period without hugs. After a family doctor wrote a prescription, one woman, filmed her mom hugging her 23-year-old granddaughter, for the first time in a year.
This got me thinking. I have become quite the hugger myself over the years. I’d usually say something like, “I’m a hugger” when a colleague might stick out their hard to shake. I’d open my arms to hug them instead. I guess under the right professional circumstances, it just felt more authentic and heartfelt to connect with people in a real, physical way. Including giving out hugs. Around family and friends, there were always hugs to say hello and goodbye.
We Didn’t Get to InterACT in “Normal” Ways
I believe the world needs more kindness. If a hug is one way to give of yourself and connect with another, especially knowing all of the additional health benefits, I’m all for it! but after a year of COVID and social distancing, I think it’s going to be something we all have to ease back into gradually. I hope we will eventually get back to a world where it is safe to interACT with kindness AND hugs. I know I’m looking forward to those days in the future. I hope others are too.