I’m a hugger. Everyone who knows me will tell you this! And not just a namby-pamby little hug, but full body, like I mean it 🙂
I always knew I got an emotional lift from doing so, and now I know why. Scientific proof abounds! But then, some things are just intuitive.
It’s also a way I say, “You’re important to me.” Otherwise, why would I be in your company?
Because you know, my friends and family are important to me. I care about what’s happening in their lives, and want to hear and see and yes, touch what’s going on with them.
And so often, I feel a person relax in my arms. There might be tension at first touch, perhaps even stiffness from the stresses of the day, to which we all succumb. Life can be joyous and filled with happiness, and at the same time (or not!) difficult and even painful. It’s that human interaction that gets us through, even if we’re just irritated from crazy traffic and drivers.
Hugs also raise oxytocin levels—the bonding hormone. The surge in that causes us to feel better, to feel connected. To feel part of the human race or at least part of our tribe. And since from the dawn of womankind we lived in tribes, feeling as though we belong makes us believe that all is right in our world. At least for the time. Elevated oxytocin alleviates feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. I’m in!
And holding a hug for a bit lifts serotonin levels. Who knew! Serotonin, the feel-good hormone (and the one in anti-depressants). I love the idea of a natural remedy to elevate mood and create happiness. Plus, it doesn’t cause you to gain weight like drugs do. Talk about win-win!
I’m a big fan of family therapist Virginia Satir’s work. Satir believed that our personal and professional satisfaction had at their foundation, relationships. Now, I have known some very successful folks who didn’t believe or act on this principle, and the funny thing is, they were never that happy. In fact, the athletes I know who are like this continue to relive their glory days, over and over—even if those were forty years ago. And by now, no one else really cares . . .
Ahead of her time, Satir presented the novel idea that the “presenting issue” or “surface problem” wasn’t the real problem. Rather, people’s reaction to, and coping with the issue, was what created the problem. We talk a lot about this in What’s Wrong with My Family? And How to Live Your Best Life Anyway. In fact, that’s the cornerstone of our theme. So, no wonder I love Satir 🙂
But mainly I love her because Satir’s encompassed body of work fell under the umbrella of “Becoming More Fully Human.” Now, that’s a goal I can strive for!
And she talked about hugs. A lot. And how much we need them, saying, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
Wow! I need to up my hugging. A new goal! Gotta keep those serotonin levels rising 🙂
How many hugs a day do you give?