When is the last time you hugged someone?

Earlier this week, I read about a study conducted at the University of North Carolina that found that people who hug are more likely to experience reduced anxiety and increased bond strengthening. It’s recommended that couples should engage in 20-second hugs.

My wife and I hug several times a day, usually for about ten seconds or so. And while I rarely say anything during these embraces, my wife habitually says, “What are we, friends?” Which is her way of saying: hug me like you mean it!

I do.

There are hugs, and then there are hugs! The last time I was in an airport, I saw what appeared to be a son holding his very emotional mother against his chest. I almost asked one of the surrounding family members where he was headed, because the person whom I assumed to be his mother, looked like she did not want to let go.

Last night I went to a friend’s 50th Birthday Celebration & Send Off. (He’s leaving California’s sunny climes for Austin, Texas.) About 30 seconds after arriving, I got a huge bear hug from one of my closest friends. And about a minute later, I hugged the birthday boy, another good squeeze.

Not that I was counting, but I went through several handshakes before hug number three – from another close friend. And there were at least two people there that I hadn’t hugged in 20 years!

There are a couple of people I know who give THE best hugs. My old friend, Jo Jo Asunsolo, is a pro. He’ll squeeze you, and just before letting go, squeeze again. And my buddy Marco “Superman” Sanchez’s squeezes are so tight that each come with a soothing back-crack, too.

Of course, not all hugs are welcomed.

If your friends and family secretly identify you as “The Hugger,” you either hug too much, hug for too long, or hug in non-hugging situations. Don’t be that person. Hug Life isn’t supposed to be Ugh Life.

My dad named his non-profit scholarship organization Abrazos & Books, because “abrazos,” the Spanish word for “hugs,” is a symbol of friendship, camaraderie, and a way to connect people of different cultures.

When I met my wife she worked at a costume store which was right next to a place called the Hip Hugger. Let’s just say that the people who performed there probably had different life goals before their plans were derailed.

I was going to use an arbitrary photo of people hugging, then, I remembered the hug you see pictured here, which is my buddy Jerry’s wife, Maria, hugging their middle child, Adera, before she headed back to school in Philadelphia. When I commented on this photo, my buddy replied with:

“You should see the collection of hug photos I have whenever we have to say goodbye to one of the girls!”

Another person on the thread said: “I could feel that hug from here.”

I could, too.

If you’re reading this next to someone who is huggable, lay one on them. And allow me to extend a virtual group hug to all of you.

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