I love hugs and I have always been a hugger. I hug everyone. It is just something I have always done because it makes me happy! But it doesn’t just make me happier – hugs make everyone happier!

Did you know that every time you hug someone or someone hugs you that oxytocin gets released in our bodies which causes us to have the warm fuzzy bonding feeilngs? And did you know that hugs also cause our brains to release dopamine which causes us to feel more confident and motivated? And best of all, hugs cause increase serotonin levels which elevate our moods and make us feel happier! Studies have also shown that hugs help us feel less fearful about our own mortality, hugs decrease our feelings of loneliness, hugs reduce our stress levels, hugs reduce tension, they calm us down, they help us feel happier and more secure, and they even increase our self-esteem. Let’s face it – Hugs are like a happy little work-out that make our bodies healthier and our minds happier, and yet they are so much more fun than a work-out is!!!

So why then, don’t we give more hugs in this world? Well one man named Juan Mann had this very question and he decided that he was going to do something about it.

It started back around 2006 when Juan Mann was arriving at the airport as he was landing in his hometown. Coming off the plain he was longing for someone to be there to greet him and hug him, but no one was. So he got a piece of cardboard and made a big sign that said “Free Hugs” on it. Then he went to the busiest pedestrian intersection and he held up the sign. Juan shared the following:

“…for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling. Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven’t compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.”

As Juan’s “Free Hugs” campaign spread across the city the police ordered the campaign be banned. So Juan began collecting signatures on a petition to allow the “Free Hugs” to continue. Watch this video to see what happened with Juan’s campaign:

The simple truth is that Hugs remind us that we are not alone. And in this crazy world in these crazy times every one of us could use the reminder more often that we are not alone. We need MORE HUGGING!

Virtual Hugs from me to all  🙂

~Amy Rees Anderson


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