Hugs!

Lake Chelan evening

You may have noticed that my little blog has been AWOL lately. Terri has been retired a bit over two weeks now, and we have been busy, busy, busy. We took a great little trip for a few days to the Lake Chelan area and had a great time exploring that area, basking (okay, baking) in the warm temperatures. But now the rains have settled in for the duration of the Great Gray, so I hope to get back on track here!

Several years ago I read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The basic premise is that we each have our own ways of receiving and giving love, and if couples take the time to learn and practice giving love to their spouse in the way they need, they will have a much stronger relationship.  What an interesting and informative book- I wholeheartedly endorse it, and recommend everyone read it! It was quickly obvious that my love language is Touch, and I am so happy I share that love language with my wife! But last night, laying awake for a bit, I realized that there is another area of life where that is quite apparent …

… and that is hugging. It’s true. I’m a hugger. I remember the first time I hugged my dad; I was about 22 years old. He and his dad were taking a trip to New Zealand and Polynesia, which seemed like a long way away. While we were never close growing up, I cared deeply for him, and I wanted him to know that before he left, so I drove over to the house, and gave him a big hug, and probably even told him that I loved him. I remember him standing stock-still, arms at his side, totally at a loss of what to do. In later years, he also became a bit of a hugger.

Close as a hug

And guess what, hugging is good for you! The best benefit comes from a hug that lasts 20 seconds or more, as that releases the hormone oxytocin. Scientific experiments show that hugging this long or longer has tons of benefits, from reducing stress to improving the immune system to better heart health and more. Many of you will be relieved to know that I save hugs this long for my wife, our kids, grandkids, and close family members.

It wasn’t too long after that first hug with my dad that I started hugging other people who were important in my life. My long-time backpacking buddy and brother-in-law John was initially more than a bit uncomfortable, then accepting, and now (ahem) embraces my hugs. My great childhood friend John, not an overly demonstrative person, allows and accepts my little hug indulgence. My uncles, Don and Denny, generationally and historically resistant to hugging, allow me in. And so do many others now. More than likely, if we’ve met more than twice in a non-business setting, you’ve been on the receiving end of one of my hugs. 

Sadly, our culture continues to devalue and depersonalize human contact and interaction. Online ordering, self-checkout, drive-thru, robot operators – as we become more and more dePerson-alized, our bonds with others becomes fragmented, torn, and lost. Hugging is one of the most personal, affirming things you can do to create bonds. If you’re not a hugger, why not give it a try today?