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Hugging for Health

For our business holiday card, I have a tradition of sending a thought-provoking story or anecdote along with the card. This year's story was about a woman, her letters to U.S. Servicemen during the Gulf War, and the simple act of sending them a photocopy of a yellow paperclip in her hand. She said the picture represented a hug that she couldn't deliver across the miles. I included a yellow paper clip with each copy of this letter.

 
At Christmas, in our house, there is lots of hugging. I am not too macho to say that at age thirty-seven the first thing I want to do when I see my Father is to hug him. (Mom too, but that seems more "normal" in our sometimes counter-productive, western civilization.)

 
My daughter is now seventeen months old. One of the words she now understands is hug. If I ask her to hug her Grandma, she'll do it. More importantly (to me), if I say, "Come hug Daddy" she will happily do that too. I've noticed in the past few days how completely alive I feel when she is hugging me, regardless of what is on my mind, positive or troubling, prior to the hug. Her hug changes my world.

 
This morning before I left for a business trip my seven-year-old son got up early to say goodbye to me. The best part of this goodbye was a big hug – initiated by him.

 
This morning I re-heard on a tape a fact about hugging. The speaker said most people get far too few hugs each day. The research cited on this tape said we need eight hugs a day for maintenance and twelve a day for growth.

 
All of this leads me to write about hugs today. I like to hug. I believe in hugs, largely because that's how I was brought up. I hug in the workplace. I hug clients and peers, and I hug at conferences. Over the past few years, with all of the focus on sexual harassment, it has sometimes caused me to pause and wonder if my hugs are "unwelcomed" and therefore a problem. I hope being conscious of the potential problem has made me more careful and kept me from any misunderstandings. On the other hand, I'm pleased to say that I still hug.

 
Some Suggestions

 
Hugging is a way of connecting with others, of showing your genuine affection and appreciation, of valuing others and of giving. All of these are positive, healthy, life-enhancing purposes. While hugging is natural and we all know how to do it, I have put together some guidelines to help make you a better hugger.

 
Begin the hug with great eye contact. This communicates to the receiver the spirit in which the hug is being given.

 
Be present during the hug. Even if the hug is only for three seconds, devote your total energy and focus on the person you are hugging – even if it's just three seconds. Feel how good it is to both give and receive.

 
When you finish the hug and are pulling away, make great eye contact again. This further blesses the receiver and communicates a positive feeling to them.

 
A hug is not an opportunity to burp the other person! Be gentle. This goes especially for the guys – remember a hug isn't the start of a wrestling match either.

 
Avoid the one-hip hug and/or the tee-pee hug. If you are going to hug, do it right! This isn't an excuse to make the hug overtly sexual either, it just makes the hug work.

 
If you are much taller than the other person, bend your knees. Make the hug comfortable and a blessing.

 
If you are hugging children, get on your knees and be at their eye level. If they are small enough, pick them up to hug them.

 
All of these guidelines are about making the hug a completely positive, giving experience. As in many other things in our lives, when we think about others, we can make better decisions. The same is true for hugs – hug with the huggee in mind!

 
Next Steps

 
Take a few minutes today to think about how often you give and receive hugs. Remind yourself how it feels to be the receiver of a really good hug – how it can improve your outlook and general emotional state. Do you get your RDR (Recommended Daily Requirement) of hugs each day? If not, why not? Ask yourself whose day you could improve by giving them one or more hugs today.

 
Your answers to these questions will tell you what to do. The guidelines in this article may help you if you are a bit out-of-practice. But please, for your own benefit, and those you care about, hug someone today.

 
Note – You can read the full story of the lady and her letters to Servicemen and women at http://kevineikenberry.com/paperclip.htm
 
Kevin Eikenberry is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (
www.KevinEikenberry.com) and author of Vantagepoints on Learning and Life. To read more stories like the one above or order your copy of the book visit:
http://www.vantagepoints.net
or contact Kevin at (317) 387-1424 or toll free 888.LEARNER.

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