“To hold (something) tightly in your arms”
“To put your arms around someone especially in a way as showing love and friendship.”
Prior to January 2008 (when I started doing free hugs), I was not much of a hugger. I’d hug my family and very close friends, but in general I was an ‘arms length away’ person. Happy – yes! Touchy no. I sure didn’t think I was missing anything or yearning for more hugs, so why did I join the free hug movement?
Every time I would watch the original free hug video by Juan Mann, I would tear up and be inspired. I was in the beginning stages of Positive Focus and it just seemed like a perfect fit for the organization. Back on that COLD Chicago day in January 2008, I sure didn’t realize it was the perfect fit for me! (Read my why free hugs story HERE).
Let’s get back to the definitions, ‘to hold (something) tightly in your arms. I have given tight hugs and received tight hugs. I’ve received a gentle pat on the back as the person has a nervous giggle. I’ve received someone standing in front of me and allowing me to hug them and yet they aren’t comfortable to put their arms around me. I’ve been picked up and swung around (short girl issues), I’ve been kissed on the cheek. I’ve been given the one armed hug. I’ve been told by an elderly woman she has a bad back so please hug gently. I’ve had people walk by us and put their arms out in a hug pose and offer a virtual hug. All of those were hugs to me even though many weren’t ‘tightly’.
In 7 years of hugging I have found hugs to be so much more than a ‘tight’ embrace. Here are just a few of the things hugs mean to me:
- Whether it is 3 seconds, 30 seconds or more, I am connected to another person, often a complete stranger.
- I get to celebrate with people on birthdays, weddings, new jobs and vacations.
- I get to share comfort with people who are dealing with a loss of a loved one, a job, or those who simply say they haven’t had a hug in weeks.
- I get the opportunity to see people and let them be seen and know they matter.
- I’ve seen lots of people walk by without a hug and yet they have a big smile on their face and their eyes light up.
- I have connected with people around the world through Global Free Hugs.
- I also get the opportunity to deal with my own insecurities of being seen and trust me, you hold up a free hug sign in a crowded area and you are SEEN.
Hugs has been a life changer for me as I have looked in the eyes and have hugged thousands of people. I SEE them, I HEAR them, and they MATTER to me. I see far more similarities in people than I see differences. I now feel and understand the importance of touch.
So whether it’s a slight hug, a bear hug, a virtual hug, a silly hug, or a simple smile, they each touch me and make me a better person.
Happy National Hug Day! Hug those you love, hug a stranger and make sure to hug YOU!
Live – Love – Laugh – Hug – Smile.