Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hugging Strangers

As of today, I am officially an advocate of hugging strangers. I'm not an expert about hugging or about strangers, but if you are in a public, well lit place, and are an adult... Just say "no" to irrational fears concerning stranger danger.

The first time I can remember venturing into the unchartered waters of hugging strangers, was a little less than a year ago after having coffee with some friends at Panera. We were saying our goodbyes just outside of the front door when a woman walked by us and said, "hey, I want a hug." My friends and I paused our hugs for a millisecond, and I took two steps over to the hug deprived woman and gave her what she needed...a hug. She giggled a little, I smiled, and my friends were trying to figure out what just happened and if I needed to be committed. Truthfully, I felt energized, elated, and I was high on life from a hug. I made a mental note to try it again sometime soon, but I didn't get my chance until today. 

See, the thing about hugging strangers is that you really need an invitation. I don't recommend hugging random strangers, just the strangers who are actually seeking today in Chicago's Union Station. 

I put two of my kiddos into the line to ride the Amtrak to Kansas City from Chicago, and when the line progressed for them to leave, I gave them hugs and said "goodbye." As I turned to leave, a nice guy behind them who had been talking to us for a while said, "where's my hug?"  I smiled at him and took him completely by surprise and gave him a goodbye hug too. Why not? I knew he was halfway teasing, but what if he really did NEED a hug?  After all, Humans need at least 8 positive physical touches each day to be a thriving person.  I left the most recent "stranger hug" in Chicago's Union Station with a smile on my face and Grace told me that the man told her, "that sure was nice of her to give me a hug" after I left. 

So, here's my challenge to you: hug a stranger sometime this year. If we all do this...the world WILL be a better place. So many more smiles and genuine surprise in each other's humanity.

I'm addicted to hugging strangers after just two shots of caring for people I will never know personally or even see again, and I reaped a great benefit as well because I don't always get my 8 positive physical touches each day either. 

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