National Hugging Day: The Importance of Random Acts of Kindness

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Most of us recall the feeling of a loved one’s embrace in a moment of need. The warmth of their arms around our bodies provides a sense of safety, sometimes incomparable to anything else. Hugs are acts of kindness that go a long way. On January 21, 2020, we celebrate National Hugging Day as not a holiday but as a reminder of the importance of altruism. Rev. Kevin Zaborney founded National Hugging Day on March 29, 1986, in Caro, Michigan to encourage the demonstration of emotion towards other human beings.

For a moment, recall the embrace of your mother, father, lover, sister, child, or friend during a moment you were feeling physical or emotional pain. Did you find relief in their arms? Is it possible the warmth of the hug made you feel like things would be okay? The security of a hug can bring more benefits to a human being than realized. Undeniably, it is an inexplicable comfort that shakes you to the core because of its healing power. Research has shown that hugging has the ability to help release stress, improve self-confidence, boost immunity, reduce depression, and promote trust. Most of all, hugs are necessary for a prosperous survival. Humans can improve well-being and health by incorporating touch into relationships. The condition “Failure to Thrive” is proof the deficiency of human touch can cripple development. Infants who lack physical touch demonstrate a limited capacity to function successfully. The children do not have normal growth due to the absence of skin contact. The good news is the disorder can be improved with regular hugs and touch. 

The advantages of hugging don’t stop there, as the National Academy of Sciences of the United States recently reported in an interesting finding. An MRI showed that participating in altruistic behaviors decreases pain. The researchers created several real-life experiences to test how doing good things for others selflessly increases the threshold of pain. The outcome provided evidence of a real connection between kindness and wellness.

Personally, one of the most powerful hugs I’ve received in a moment of need was from a friend. On the day news was delivered that my job would be eliminated, I lost my voice. There were no words that could express my hopelessness at that moment. A dear girlfriend met me at the exit doors of the building. We did not exchange words, her embrace said it all as I choked on tears of despair. It was exactly what I needed in that second, enough to keep me together until I arrived home to release the emotions that were waiting to burst out of my chest.

On January 21st, let’s challenge ourselves to hug someone that might take solace in the act. He or she may feel depressed, hopeless, afraid or alone and by extending an embrace, words of encouragement, or show compassion we can help make someone else’s life brighter. 

Happy National Hugging Day!