12043045_10153600715222830_2992517562836200703_nhugs are the new handshakeWhen I saw this photo posted on FB after an event 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.

_MG_5416I 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.  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.