My son for the past year and a half has called himself a professional hugger. Whenever he meets someone new or an old friend, the first thing he does is give them a big hug and tells them he is a professional hugger. He even asked to have business cards made up to hand out to remind people to hug. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he says “Professional Hugger!” Seeing what the power his hugs have is amazing. When the manager of a local bagel place we go to once a week is having a bad morning, his hug – a simple thing – can turn her day around because it is given from his heart. So, it was to my surprise when I saw a gentleman in NY a few weeks ago wearing a shirt that said “Free Hugs” on the front and “Sometimes all you need is just a hug!” on the back! What?!? Is this person a “professinal hugger?” I asked him about it and he told me about the Free Hugs Campaign.
Free hugs actually started out with a the real life controversial story of Juan Mann. Juan came to a point in his life where everything was turned upside-down and nothing made sense. When flying home to Sydney, all he had was a bag full of clothes and a world full of troubles. No one was there to welcome him home, and he didn’t even know if he had a home. While standing at the terminal he watched other passengers getting greeted by loved ones with hugs and smiles. Juan wanted that, someone to smile at him and to acknowlege that he was important by giving him a hug. So, he got a piece of cardboard and wrote on it “Free Hugs.” He was amazed at the transformation powers of a hug and thus “Free Hugs Campaign” was born. His mission: reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives. Pretty much sums up the mission of my son!
Juan has put out a 120-page interactive e-book called “The Illustrated Guide To Free Hugs” – which is free for download! It will inspire you with the story of Juan Mann and how he turned hugs into a worldwide movement. In it, you willl find descriptions, anecdotes and even demonstrations of over 30 diffrent styles of hugs including:
The “Koala” or Side On Hug
The Surprise Hug
At Arms’ Length Hug
The Group Hug
In this day and age, I think that we could all use a hug to remind us that we are human, that we are important, and that, perhaps, everything might just turn out okay! And, if you run into my son, don’t be surprised if he gives you a hug to remind of all those things and more!