Life Lessons

Hug Me, Touch Me, Love Me!

My R.D. and close personal friend in college Trevor Neal actually researched the human need for touch. I don't know if it was part of his thesis or not, but the guy knew his stuff. He used to actually put on "hugging workshops" on campus. It was pretty cool, because what you don't realize is how much you need that kind of contact until you finally get a little. According to Trevor, a human needs 12 hugs a day just to maintain proper emotional (and physical and mental) health. 12 hugs! Are you getting 12 a day? I'm normally lucky if I get one or two in a day. But I can tell you from personal observation that getting the 12 a day makes a tremendous difference on things like mood and energy.

And it's not just hugging, obviously. We as humans are tactile creatures. The first exploration we do as a child is through touch. In my psych class we learned about this study on baby monkies that were raised without mothers from birth. They got proper nutrition and everything, but they weren't held. The frightening thing is that they would die within a few months. That's how important the touch was. Think about it...when you get a massage, how much of it is the deep tissue work, and how much is just the pure joy of being touched? And have you ever noticed how some people have better touch energy than others? I've got this great friend JLM who is just amazing. I guess our energies sync really well or something because when she touches me I get tingles up and down my spine and it leaves me energized for days. And that's just from something simple like a hug.

When it comes down to it, touch is a great expression of love and caring, and we all need and DESERVE to be loved and cared for. I guess the way I see the whole struggle for human existance can be summed up by a look at the stars on a dark, clear night. Look out there... it's so empty. There's so much nothing. And as far as we know, we're the only something in that nothing. No matter what toys you have, they'll break and wear out. The only thing lasting we really have is our relationships with each other. That's the only thing that will help us overcome our lonliness. Human contact! How much war and argument and bloodshed and such would be ended if the combatants had to hug first?

So here's your challenge for the week (actually, it's a two week deal this time...I know, commitment!): for one week, keep track of how many hugs you get. At the end of each day just make a simple note on your calendar of what your total was. Then at the end of the week, see if you're anywhere near the 84 you should be. I'd bet you're closer to 15. But that's all you have to do the first week. Just be conscious of things. Now in the SECOND week, that's the really tough part... you're going to need to find someone to hug. It might mean pointing someone to my website ("Hey, I read this really great article...") and establishing a hugging buddy. Or hey, maybe visit your mom and give her an extra hug when you see her. Or go wild and actually hug one of your friends. I know, it's kind of scary. (OK, I'm being sarcastic.) But honestly, I think a lot of us are scared to hug, especially in this sexual harassment crazy world. So I don't suggest you do it at work. But even guys can hug their friends with one of those "handshake into hug 'what's up bro'" kind of things. See if in your second week you can double your first week's number. Of course, long term you'll want to start to order your life in a way that will make hugs more accessible to you. Activity groups are a great place to start.

Until next time... be well, God bless, and namaste