1. press tightly toOkay, so we have the definition. We all know what a hug is. The interesting thing to me is how different people perceive the act of hugging. How about you? Are you an enthusiastic hugger? Do you embrace others joyfully with both arms circling for a nice, long squeeze? Or are you a hug avoider - one of those people who half-heartedly pats others on the back with one arm only, your torso angling away, the whole while sidling awkwardly and quickly out of reach?
2. hold fast
3. stay close to
As with most expressions of affection, there is no right or wrong answer. Some of how you view the act of hugging has to do with the environment surrounding your formative years. My very earliest memories are of my own family - a huge, very closely knit clan - being of the enthusiastic hugger variety. This, in fact, wasn't always the case, and I didn't learn this until perhaps 15 years ago. In a random conversation at one of our numerous family reunions (we have a lot of those), an Aunt commented on how much we do hug, and also commented that, "It wasn't always like that though - what made it change and the hugging get started?" I remember my Mom answering, quite bluntly, "It was when we had all those people pass away so abruptly within such a short span of time." That was a sobering realization, but also an uplifting one.
What I feel is noteworthy in regard to my family is that we chose, collectively, to weather a series of tragic losses by growing closer, embracing both literally and figuratively, the ones still living. The reverse could so easily have happened, with our family fracturing and growing apart. I am happy to say that we chose the more positive path and this gave all of us an immensely strong foundation from which to draw upon. I've often been known to state that hugs should be a form of world currency, and as corny and rose-colored glasses mindset as it sounds, I think hugs make us better people. Perhaps, in some small way, if anyone who knows me has always wondered at my enthusiastic hugging, this gives a small window into the birth of this tendency in me.
On a health benefits basis, hugs DO make a difference. They have been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate, thus reducing heart disease. People who hug more frequently tend to be more open about their emotions and develop a greater sense of closeness and compassion to those around them. Hugs have also been shown to improve overall mood, increase nerve activity and release the hormone oxytocin - this is the "love bonding" hormone that allows new parents, male and female alike, to bond with their babies. Hugging even helps to ease symptoms of insomnia and calms erratic brain waves. I could list many more benefits of hugging, but these alone are impressive. Dare I suggest this could be called a true miracle application in a holistic health approach?
Several sources suggest that everyone needs at least four hugs a day for healthy survival, eight hugs a day for emotional strength, and 12 hugs a day to really grow and be empowered. Stop and think about just how often you give or get a hug.
It seems to be more common - and this isn't a gender bashing comment here - that men are less comfortable with hugging than women are. In fact, this whole topic was sparked by a good natured debate on Facebook w/ a good male friend of mine. He finally just suggested I write a blog, and the rest is history...you're reading the result. What do you feel is the reason for the Great Divide between genders regarding hugging? Do you, personally, enjoy hugging, or do you dread it? Do you hug with ease or dread the mere mention of the word, let alone the actual act of giving or receiving a hug? I find this to be an interesting topic, and certainly one deserving of endless discussion.
I am a fan of hugging, for those of you who are curious, but perhaps you already got that from reading about my family history above. In my personal world, with family, when we come together, hugs are the natural greeting and the same is true for when we depart from one anothers' presence. I hug close friends with equal fervor - to me, it is a way of expressing genuine care, love, reassurance, beyond just being a happy greeting. I feel that hugs matter, greatly. This is my personal stance on The Great Hug Debate. What's yours?