Giving out hugs can touch lives

Last Saturday evening the rain had stopped by the time we all left church, so everyone lingered a while. Men, women and children were giving our pastor hugs; friends were greeting each other with hugs. It was a very happy scene all around.

The sense of touch is crucial to our well-being. In his article “Nurturing Touch: Keep It In Your Life!” Dr. Barnaby Barnatt states, “Without touch a baby dies, the human heart aches and the souls withers….We all need to be touched for our physical welfare, our emotional vitality and spiritual health.”

We certainly were a healthy bunch that night.

Another psychologist said that to be healthy we all need 10 hugs every day. We all need to feel appreciated and loved. Until I started thinking about it, I never realized how many kinds of hugs there are, and I am sure my list missed some.

There are hugs we give babies and little ones that make them feel warm and nurtured. There are “mommy hugs” when you little one runs up unexpectedly and hugs your leg. That brief contact warms both your hearts.

What about welcoming hugs? When you come home, walk into a gathering, meet an old friend at a store you often get a hug. This kind of hug says someone is glad to see you. This kind of hug validates the fact that you are worth another person’s attention and affection.

I know someone who I, unfortunately, rarely see, but when I do her face lights up and her smile is a mile wide. When she gives you a hug you feel you have been hugged from head to toe. She is like this with everyone she knows and makes you feel welcomed into her day. That is a great hug!

Another kind of hut is the encouragement hug we give someone who has lost a competition. We pat them on the back and offer them encouragement for their next attempt. We also give hugs after school performances, piano recitals and sporting events.

Next come congratulatory hugs given at weddings, graduations and award occasions. We give the “hugee” praise and encouragement for a good choice of a spouse and offer best wishes for the future. We give praise for prizes earned and won.

Funerals are a time when many consoling hugs are given. Friends hug the spouse who has lost a partner. Relatives who have not seen each other for a while hug. Hugs say I feel badly for you, wish I could do more to ease your burden and I’m sorry, all hoping to offer some comfort to the other person.

Then there are comforting hugs given to someone who is ill as a way of saying you hope they will feel better soon. They are also often given to someone who is going through a rough patch and is sad, as well as to people who have received bad news.

All these kinds of hugs show that you care, that you validate the worth of the person whether they are congratulatory or consoling.

The Flower Children of the 1970s turned us into a nation of huggers and we are better off for it. You may not be a natural hugger, but give it a try. You know how nice one feels so seniors step out and get more hugs in your life. In no time at all you will be on your way to 10 hugs a day.

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