A hug a day keeps the doctor away!

​In our western society, technology and urban sprawls have grown so quickly that our hearts and minds can barely keep up. Big cities grow taller and increase in population year after year; our big cities have gotten so dense that creating a small, supportive community in a large city is almost unachievable, especially if you’re the shy type. It can be hard to connect with others when everyone else is stuck in their own personal bubbles. We live in a time where cities have been maxing outpopulation growth, and technology brings us all “together” at the touch of our fingertips, yet we have never been lonelier. How can it be a thousand people can live in the same building, and many of them live in perpetual loneliness? Simply being around many people in a dense city is not the antidote to feeling like you belong. We crave heart to heart connections with others, and this daily human contact is what quells our loneliness.

​The irony behind feeling alone and lonely in a big city, is that no one is alone in that experience. There are many who struggle to develop a true connection with others that result in bonding, guidance, and human contact such as the friendly and comforting hug. The problem is we get so lonely and desperate for someone to reach out to us, that we forget that sometimes WE are the ones who need to reach out to others. There’s a saying that suggests we get back what we put out into the world. If we reach out to others, we may find the same returned to us.

​If you are lonely in a big city, or even in a small city, the first step is to join group activities that you enjoy. There are plenty of meet-up groups for everything from book reading to hiking or take an art class once a week or once a month! You can also join a gym and participate in group classes every now and then, stay after class and talk with some of the gym goers. Join a church that matches your belief system and show up consistently – people are drawn to others who are unknown but familiar. You can do this with any hobby or interest, and you’re bound to meet some like-minded people. If you experience loneliness, sometimes it can be difficult to do, but stepping out of your comfort zone to make these personal connections with others is not only terrifying, but ecstatically liberating. Knowing you have the freedom to take action in many aspects of your life, including building your community, is the first step to realizing your potential as a friend and as a community member/leader.

​Now here’s where the scary part is: Talking and acquainting ourselves with others is a great first step, but almost every human being has the same need for physical contact: hugging. Hugging someone is the friendliest and most platonic way of being emotionally intimate with them. Multiple international studies have shown that not just one, but eight hugs a day is ideal for the human brain. Now that’s not always achievable, especially if you are a single person who lives by themselves. But if we can find ways to produce more hugs in our lives, we are on our way to obliterating loneliness. Not everyone is open to physical contact right away, so its important to get to know someone first before dishing out hugs to people you barely know, although sometimes it’s worth trying. Engaging in a surprise hug to someone you observe who seems down in the dumps or hurting can be a great gift to that person. No words need be spoken as the hug says it all. Yet, there’s nothing like a hug between two friends, or between you and your partner.

​If you’ve got friends and a community and they enjoy physical contact (most people do), then start dishing out more hugs. The best way to get our own needs fulfilled, is to go out and fulfill the needs of others: We get back what we give into this world. An apple a day may keep your body healthy, but a hug a day keeps our hearts, souls and minds healthy. Get out there, be yourself and build your community. We need more people like you leading the way to developing a loving and supportive community. It’s the only way we can help heal this loneliness epidemic. Hug away! Spread Shine!