I love hugging.  I hug at almost every greeting I have (outside of business meetings) with friends, family, my pets and people I have recently met and am saying goodbye to.  Not everyone is a hugger of course, so I try to get a read off people before I go in for the big squeeze.

It's kind of funny actually to watch the body language of others before, during and after the hug.  As I am leaning in I might see a leaning out! Then I know to just do the light and spacious hug. A little pat on the back is usually included.  No mid section touching what so ever.   If I see them coming towards me with open arms in a receptive manner, I go in for the full wrap and squeeze.  You have to watch some people though, they might also have the open mouth to go with the open arms.  Then it's my turn to lean out.  "I did not say I wanted a kiss too, ya creep."  Kidding.  Some people get the kiss too but mainly reserved for family and hot guys.

Then there are those who hold on during the hug.  I personally love the teddy bear body type so if one of my pals wants to hang out in the hug for a bit and has that body type going on, then I kind of like hanging in the hug for a bit too.  It just feels nice.  Some people who are not so in to hugging, give you the push me pull you hug.  One hand is kind of hugging and the other is kind of pushing your arm away.  Very confusing but I get it.  They WANT to hug but on their terms.  No problem.  If you are one of those people, I have news for you.  Hugging for extended periods of time lifts your serotonin levels which can elevate your mood and increase happiness so bring in it guys.  Let the hug last.  No pushing away.  We all want more happiness.  Then their is the lift and twirl hug.  I used to love that but as I get older, it hurts and most people I know don't really want to hurt their back at this stage in the game.

Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels too which help heal feelings of anger, isolation or loneliness.  You can even hug yourself sometimes and get this effect.  Hugs can strengthen your immune system, give a sense of safety and usually put us right in the present moment.  We are feeling in the moment of the hug, noticing our body and others.

Now sometimes I wonder if the other person is thinking "oh man, here she comes with the hug" as I am leaning in so I am guessing they are in the moment too but in a not so positive way.  Can we give in to others when they want to hug us.  We of course need to feel safe and not creepy so its always best to assess the situation but for the most part I feel like hugs are a big THANK YOU.  Thank you for visiting with me, thank you for being who you are, thank you for receiving my gift of a hug, you get the drift.

I spent a weekend in New York many years ago (pre 9/11) on a hugging experiment.  I told my girlfriends who I was there with, that I was going to hug anyone who did something nice for me over the weekend.  ANYONE... so, after our safe cab ride, I hugged the cabbie.  He was so happy and surprised.  I hugged our waiter and said thank you for your great service tonight.  He called his boss over so he would know that a customer appreciated him.  I asked a young and tiny woman if she wanted a hug as we stood in line to get in to a club.  It was freezing and she had on a tank top.  She accepted.  It was a funny weekend and I got a variety of responses but mostly positive.  I hope I lifted a few immune systems and increased some happiness and most of all I hope all who I hugged then went and hugged someone else to say thank you.

Give it a try today.  Let someone know you appreciate them.  No words needed.  And watch out; the next time I see you, you might get a big hug.