Today: Mar 03, 2024

Hey let’s hug it out

Simone Virzi, Special To Southern News:
Peace, love, and happiness: a cliché some choose to live by, but it can be difficult to obtain that happiness everyone searches for. Realistically, no one is happy every second. Everyone faces obstacles in their daily lives, whether they are fighting with a boyfriend or girlfriend, struggling financially, or despise their part-time job at Johnny Rocket’s. When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, don’t devour a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s Rocky Road ice cream while watching repeat episodes of “Friends.” The solution is simple. Sometimes, all you need is a hug.
A few weeks ago I was hanging out with a friend between classes. School was stressing me out, my personal life was a wreck, and everything was taking a toll on me emotionally. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him I was fine, but he could see the hamster wheels spinning in my head. He said it looked like I needed a hug. Before I could respond, his arms were wrapped around me and personal space was nonexistent. This embrace lasted for minutes as I started to cry on his shoulder, literally. I felt like an idiot for crying, but at the same time, a heartfelt hug was exactly what I needed. It did not solve any of my problems, but I felt more relaxed. It was reassuring to know I was cared about and not alone.
Let me warn you, not all hugs are good hugs. Some of them are incredibly awkward and a waste of energy. One of my friends asked me to be his date on Valentine’s Day since we were both single. He enjoyed my company and I did not mind going to my favorite restaurant in New Haven. My date had never been there before and he ultimately paid more attention to his meal than my beautiful face because it was “the best Chinese food” he ever had, even though I told him multiple times it was a Thai restaurant. After we left he told me I was lucky he paid for my meal, since he usually splits the bill. Mind you, he’s the one that asked me out. I just wanted the night to be over; I had had more than enough. Before I was free from him, he unexpectedly threw himself at me and squeezed me, as if an uncomfortable hug would make up for the lousy night. Yes, hugs are nice, but only when they are at the appropriate time and not being forced on the victim. Use them with caution.
If you are given a hug by someone who isn’t a cheap gambler obsessed with food, hugs go a lot further than merely being a nice gesture; they can actually benefit your health. Hugs can decrease your blood pressure as well as the risk of heart disease. Additionally, they make people happy, and it has been proven happy people live longer.
Say your friend is having a bad day, and it looks like they could use a hug. I do not recommend giving them a one-arm hug that suggests “I kind of care but not really.” Be sincere. In fact, Dictionary.com defines a hug as “to clasp tightly in the arms, especially with affection.” Your friends do not have cooties. Show them how much they mean to you through your actions. A small gesture can turn their day around.
Last semester when the weather was still warm, a few students were standing outside between the Adanti Student Center and Engleman Hall. They were wearing friendly smiles and holding “free hugs” signs. A few of my friends thought it was odd hugging strangers; I thought it would have been better if Vinny or Pauly D from the “Jersey Shore” were offering hugs. But overall, their generosity was sure to bring smiles to students’ faces.
The Free Hugs Campaign was started by one man in Australia, Juan Mann. My junior year of high school, in 2007, I went to Canada. I remember going to a mall with my friends and seeing people outside with “free hugs” signs. I was previously unaware of the movement, but I thought it was a great idea. Looking back, it is incredible that one man’s positive actions could have started a movement that has spread across the world. Just like smiles, hugs are contagious.
You don’t have to go out in public and offer hugs to strangers, especially if their body odor is overwhelming. But do not be afraid to give a friend or a sibling a sincere hug when they are down. Hugs will not solve world peace, but they can certainly bring happiness, two open arms at a time.

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