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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.

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