Many of us have seen the quote, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” I believe it and I say it, but I got curious about who said it. A quick Google search led me to Virginia Satir, a social worker known as the “Mother of Family Therapy.” She was an insightful woman, an amazing author, and a social therapy pioneer with world influence. She used her models of family therapy as seeds for world peace: “The family is a microcosm. By knowing how to heal the family, I know how to heal the world.”
But hugs – let’s get back to hugs. I doubt that Satir did any double-blind research to validate her statement. But lots of research since has shown the value of hugs. Hugs increase healing, oxytocin and serotonin levels; relaxes muscles; makes us feel safe, serene and happy; lowers blood pressure and stress; on and on. Think about all the medications we take to address these same issues. And hugs have no negative side effects, unless you hug a stranger who doesn’t want to be hugged.
If you are a hugger, like me, you know these things to be true, know it in your bones. The comforting feelings that flood the body have to be a good thing for us. If you want all the health effects of hugging, they have to be long, heart-to-heart hugs, say 20 seconds. But that’s not an impediment for huggers, and I wouldn’t stop hugging for short bursts just because my serotonin level doesn’t drop as far. I still get happier and more tranquil/serene with every hug. It’s an instant de-stressor.
There’s another strategy to get these benefits even if you can’t see yourself hugging for 20 seconds. Sit close to someone you love and put your arm around them or hold their hand. Have your child lay his head in your lap and stroke his forehead. Hold a (calm) baby in your arms. These are all activities you can do for long periods of time that will probably give you the same benefits. I haven’t done the research to verify this, but conduct your own investigation!
I even encouraged hugging back at work. Lots of people wandered down to my department to enjoy the vibe and get a free hug. It was happiness therapy. One guy told me he had never hugged another person outside his family. Wow; glad I could help him.
And now I live in Hawai‘i, where the universal greeting, even for strangers, is a hug. I don’t think that is a coincidence.
Of course hugging is easy for me; my sisters and some of my friends are world-class huggers. We believe in this body-wisdom and make a point of hugging when we meet, when we separate, and at multiple points in between. Some people may have to work to get their quota in. But it’s a worthwhile goal.
So let’s not wait until National Hugging Day (January 21). Give and get your hugs every day, and grow or even thrive.
See these other self-care essays:
A daily gift from the Universe
I found a new tool – the Complaint-Free World bracelet
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Sending you a hug from Waimea- I will take a raincheck for a hug back from you for when I see you next Diane! Stacy
I can feel the vibes. I’ll be back on the Big Island soon and will take you up on your offer with gusto!
Today, July 25th, is Chuck’s 78th birthday so I’ll give him one extra hug and tell him it is from Diane S.
Absolutely. What the heck – give him two!
Thanks Diane!! I knew there was a reason I was brought up on hugs and still prefer a hug to and handshake. Take care and love your blog. Read everyone with interest.
Thanks John. Yes, I do recall you are a hugger. Keep spreading the hugs!
Come HOME to receive even more hugs (from your Ohana) 😘
Counting down the days!
Hi Diane, We read your book during our own manifesting process and are now living on Big Island and loving it. Your book was such a grounding force for me as we went through the transition and I have used some of the wonderful tools you wrote about. I keep thinking about the women’s circle you have blogged about and wondered if you know whether there is one in the Kona area. Mahalo, Lori
Dear Lori and Paul,
I am so glad you found my book helpful. As a writer, there’s nothing more gratifying than hearing that.
I would love to meet you. Perhaps we could have coffee the next time I am in Kona.
Keep using the tools! Much Aloha, Diane
Hi Diane–I’ve been catching up on some of your posts–LOVED you saloon girl win! Nice to see you the other eve at Deacons. Take care, Lisen
Dear Lisen, So nice to know that you are finding the time to read my blog now and then. It would be great to get together more often than we do. – Diane