Affirmation: I gather ten hugs a day.
My mother is of English-Scottish decent and my father was an only child whose father was Swiss-German. I don't know if that's why we didn't do a lot of hugging but we didn't. My husband's family is pure Italian. Some are from Naples and others are from Sicily but both his mother and his father's family immigrated from Italy. When Sandy took me to his house to meet his family the front door flew open and his mother, all five feet of her, threw open her arms and hugged me with all her might. I was home. I think I had waited my whole young life to be embraced with such ardor. This was where I belonged.
I read many years ago that we are supposed to gather ten hugs a day. I know some people don't like being touched. I know it's not appropriate to go around hugging everyone but oh, how I love to give and get a hug. I've found it fascinating that once you tell someone about the ten hug a day quota, or at least the people I see regularly, they are excited about sharing a hug. I have adopted Yolanda's warm greeting with almost everyone who comes to our home. I feel my hug says "Welcome! I'm so glad you're here! Come in and share the warmth and safety of our home."
Most of the groups I belong to greet each other with a hug. Touch is an essential part of staying healthy. During World War II psychologists noted that orphaned infants who were not cuddled suffered stunted growth both physically and mentally and in some instances actually died. Now we have all sorts of programs that insure babies will be held and even massaged to promote their healthy development. We all need to be touched. Massage has been shown to be an amazing tool in the arsenal for staying healthy. The elderly need touch. When I did my MSW at Chapel Hill, NC I focused on gerontology. One of the topics discussed was how as we age many people don't get enough affection. Now, whenever I visit the assisted living or the Alzheimer's unit I make sure to hold hands or touch their arms or shoulders. If they seem agreeable to a hug, I freely give one.
There are so many ways to greet people and so much of it is determined by the culture in which we reside. Of course it's also determined by the relationship we have with a person. In most cases we greet a complete stranger with a nod, perhaps a smile or a handshake. I've been in European countries where I was kissed on both cheeks by someone I'd just met. When I was at Kripalu studying Yoga, we had one full day of silence. It was not the first time I'd been in a silent mode at a retreat but this time the teacher instructed us to not even make eye contact. She explained that even that type of communication required energy and the purpose of this exercise was to completely focus within. It was the first time I was so aware of how much effort I put into my casual contacts. I can remember walking the quad in college and making an effort to acknowledge everyone I passed that I knew or that even looked familiar. I still do that. My walks around Apex Lake here in North Carolina contain many nods, smiles and greetings. It seems so natural to me. I am always perplexed by those who have on their ear pieces and don't even look my way as they pass by, perplexed but I do not judge them. Perhaps this is their "silent retreat" time.
My husband, Sandy, believes the Italians invented hugging but my daughter-in-law is from Ecuador and they too are great huggers. She has taught even us how to greet every family member. You get up from wherever you are and you go to the person who has just arrived and you give them a warm hug and maybe even a kiss. Her greetings say, "I love you and you are important in my life." It's been another gift she has brought to our family.
There are many different types of hugs. There is the one arm hug, the wrap your arms around someone and hold them tenderly hug, there is the bear hug, there is the spoon while lying down hug and there is the heart to heart hug. If you rest your left cheek on the other's left cheek and shift your weight to the right, your heart will rest on top of theirs and you'll feel the heart's rhythm.
How do you greet people? What comes naturally? Do you think you can learn to hug if it doesn't come naturally? Once I was with a friend in a department store and I went and asked a sales person a question. The sales associate had on a name tag and I called her by her name. My friend was shocked that I would use someone's name to whom I had never been introduced. I love a name tag. I make every effort I can to read a service person's tag and to call them by name. For me, it's another type of a hug, a verbal hug. It's the same message we each send when we greet someone warmly, "I care about you. You are important."
Ten hugs a day keeps the doctor away. Yesterday I walked into the choir room at St. Michael the Archangel to sing for a funeral. I am a member of the Resurrection choir. The room was packed with people because our former pastor was being buried and the regular choir from two churches were singing. I was immediately embraced by several people. I found myself counting, "one, two, three, four, five." Five hugs plus Sandy's early morning hug, "six." "Only four more to go," I thought, "this will be an easy goal today." Ten hugs a day keeps us healthy and keeps those healthy with whom we share them. A simple heart felt hug can brighten your life and the lives of all those you care about. Can you gather ten hugs today? Be careful, it's a random act of sharing joy and affection. Once you begin you might have to hold back with that stranger walking past you.