What’s the Value of a Hug?
The challenge of physical touch in our society today
When I was in university, I took some interesting psychology courses as electives. One of my favourite classes was Abnormal Psychology. I learned quite a bit about my friends and family from this class! But seriously, I remember learning about the value of a hug.
The course took a look at a study that was done years ago on the benefits of touch.
It reported that babies respond positively to being held, stroked and touched.
I wasn’t surprised by this study. We all need the physical benefits that a simple touch can bestow.
God created us with five senses. We can easily stimulate our sense of sight, hearing, taste, and smell. However, touch is best experienced through external sources.
My children loved to have their backs tickled as we said our prayers at night. This was a ritual that I started with them from infancy. It was something that my own mother did with her four children. It’s something that I continue to enjoy today.
A hug, even more beneficial, is something that is not so simple. Unfortunately, our society has pulled away from such expressions of warmth and touching and it is even frowned upon in certain environments.
Yet, it’s so needed.
I now take every opportunity I can and call, “Family Hug!” to bring my husband, my two young adult children, and my grandchild into a circle for a group hug.
As a speaker, I often encourage my participants to turn to the person beside them and give them a hug. This frees them to give and receive the touch that we so desperately need.
Some people can go days and even weeks without receiving so much as a pat on the back. They are desperate for physical touch.
Not too long ago, I was at dinner with a large group of women. Our waitress was efficient and courteous. She asked, “Let me know if there is anything you need.”
At that moment, my spirit was pricked and I blurted out, “I need a hug!” The woman looked at me with a puzzled look but then came over to me with extended arms. I stood up and received a warm hug. I believe that she needed that hug even more than I did.
God has blessed us with many ways to express our love. One of these ways is to offer a hug.
And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of this cloak, and all who touched him were healed (Matthew 14:35–36 NIV).
I challenge you to offer a hug to someone new every single day.