It’s undoubtedly one of the busiest times of year for florists across America. It’s also that special time when grocery, department, and drug stores are filled with aisles of heart-shaped candies, sentimental cards, and cuddly shaped critters. It’s Valentines week. While I am definitely in favor of such a love-filled day of thoughtful gifts from that special someone, I am often puzzled at the reluctance to offer up one of the easiest, cheapest gifts that folks of all ages are capable of giving – a hug.
It’s no big secret that the simple act of touch has significant healing powers for infants. Severely premature babies will often develop quicker and become healthier – and ultimately lead a long life – just by being held by their loving mother. Back in 2010, Diane Sawyer conducted a very interesting interview with De Pauw psychologist Matthew Hertenstein about the power of touch – watch it here.
But really, this is no recent finding. Back in 1983, Kathleen Keating wrote The Hug Therapy Book, which showcases all the ways that hugging can positively impact an adult’s IQ, self esteem, stress, and the aging process. And it doesn’t hurt that the book is illustrated with charismatic line drawings of bears giving “bear hugs” (I think just looking at the pictures would make we want to go out and give someone a hug!).
When looking in our catalog for books on the subject, I find it very interesting that most of the results are children’s books (my favorite of which happen to be A Cuddle for Claude and Monster Hug! ). I’m afraid that, since our culture of adults are all about personal space, this is more of a “do as I say, not as I do” practice. Kids are so much more likely to run up to someone and give them a big bear hug than us adults. There are many things we could learn from our juvenile counterparts.
This week, I resolve to at least gently touch at least 3 people, even if it’s not an all-out bear hug (I suppose I should forewarn my coworkers). A slight pat on the shoulder or back would probably be sufficient. Who knows, if we end up in the same vicinity, it may just be you. If not, consider this your cyber hug for the day.
Happy valentine’s week!