Why happiness IS a warm hug.

One of my resolutions is “Affectionate touching.”

With my family, I’m working on doing more hugging, back rubbing, and making kind gestures, like handing over a utensil, pointing out something interesting, or straightening a shirt. Sometimes we all crowd together in one big huge, and yell, “Family love sandwich!”

I’m trying to hold my hugs for a longer time, too. Research shows that if we hold a hug for at least six seconds, we optimize the flow of mood-boosting chemicals.

Studies show that a family member is 47% more likely to feel close to a family member who often expresses affection than to one who rarely does. Sometimes it’s good to say, “I love you,” sometimes it’s good to express that thought without words.

Also, frequent huggers have lower blood pressure and higher levels of oxytocin (a chemical that promotes bonding).

At the same time, I’m trying to stop jaw-clenching, eye-rolling, and sighing in annoyance. A few times lately I’ve started to make an exasperated sound, and then pretended that I hadn’t done it. I’m not fooling anyone, but it’s an improvement.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Great post topic. We’re big group huggers in my family and even though I’m dealing with teenager and 20 something boys I hug them anyway. I figure they need it even if they think they don’t. Oh and my husband R is the eye roller of all time. We tease him about it all the time. He has it down to a fine art. k

  • I come from a very tactile family and do the same with my kids. There is lots of hugging, back scratching, holding hands etc going on and I LOVE IT.
    It used to give me problems in work though because I used to touch someone if I was talking to them. Not in an affectionate way but putting my hand on their underarm or so to emphasise a point. Whilst I’ve always been a good networker as a result – people do connect better to each other – I have been accussed of flirting or even having affairs when I wasn’t!

  • Hal

    Is the syndication of this blog still operating? Thanks!

  • It is so true, I come from a family of none huggers and maried a very touchy huggy kinda guy. Even though sometimes it drives me nuts, I am so greatful he is like that, especialy with the kids! He has helped me be more affectionate. And I hope our kids will be like him in their future families.

  • You may enjoy this YouTube video of a man in NYC who offers “free hugs” to help alleviate the feeling of isolation that permeates our society. Even within families, we’re often in our own little wired worlds rather than experiencing connectedness. Also, FYI, there’s a woman in India, who’s considered a saint, who offers hugs to gatherings of thousands of her followers. I’m told it’s quite a profound experience. Here’s the YouTube link:

  • Emma

    This is very inspiring. You have changed my perspective on life and I plan to bring this practice into my life. Thank you very much. I’m sending my love from here to you!!!!!!!! Internet love sandwhich!! *MUAH!*