Monday, January 31, 2011

good deeds ~ free hugs!

for those of you who have been a long-time reader, you may recall the free hug booth at SF outside lands two years ago.  there was a big guy giving out free hugs, with a variety of hug options from which you could choose.  i got the bear hug, because i mean, how could i not?  it involved a great big burly hug which even picked me off the ground a little.  i loved every second of it!  now that was a pretty big deal for me because i am not a hugely affectionate person and i really don't like to have physical contact with people i don't know, including handshakes.  but there was something about this that just felt right - human connection. 

several weeks ago i saw on alli's blog, reasons to smile, that someone had started a free hugs campaign.  the idea began when juan mann traveled back home during a pretty low point in his life.  he arrived at the airport and watched as loved ones embraced in hello's and goodbye's, only to find no one had come for him.  this experience inspired him to head out to one of the busiest intersections in sydney with a sign that read "free hugs." many people passed him by until finally, a woman approached him stating that it was the one year anniversary of her daughter's death, that her dog had also just died that morning, and she was in great need of a hug.  after that first hug, juan knew that he was on to something amazing, something that was somehow incredibly important for the spread of compassion and happiness to all sorts of people in need of connection.

juan started the free hugs campaign, which has spread all over the world, even landing him a segment on oprah.  there's something so simple about giving out hugs, but which makes such an incredibly positive impact.  human beings literally need physical connection in order to survive, as seen in the case of orphan babies who died simply from not being held in the orphanages.  just because we're all grown up now doesn't change anything.  we still need that human connection whether it's with a lover, parent, sibling, child, friend or even a stranger on the street.  and it's something in which you too can get involved!  to join in the campaign, you can sign up here and find out when free hug events are happening in your area, or you can download the free hugs guide {which lists a variety of types hugs} to start a movement of your own.  

of course, if you're not quite ready to hug a bunch of strangers, you can always start with the people you know.  next time you see a friend or family member, how about sharing a good ole bear hug? or maybe a slow motion run and jump hug? or how about the classic lift and spin hug {my personal favorite}?!  i think no matter what you choose, sharing a hug is one of the most important ways you can make the world a better place.