Child-like behavior

Tommy meets Matt for the first time! August 4, 1981
Tommy meets Matt for the first time,  August 4, 1981

I attended a large event last weekend, and as I sat in the audience, watching the speakers address the honoree of the evening, I began to observe the hugs that were exchanged after each person spoke, and before they returned to their seats. Each one talked about their special relationship to the woman who was being celebrated, and yet the hug exchanged, spoke of the real relationship, and the real affection, or lack thereof.

I like hugging. I love the connection of heart-to-heart that is made physically when I hug another human being.

I don’t however, like fake hugs; the kind where the person barely touches me. If this kind of hug were a present, it would be akin to those beautifully wrapped gifts under department store Christmas trees: all show, but nothing inside….very disappointing to open. These hugs really bother me, and so I try not to give them either. When someone hugs me like this, I feel like they are trying to keep their distance, and I receive less affection than I would have if there were no hug at all.

I had the same reaction to these half-hearted hugs when I observed them. They were not uplifting or happy to witness while the genuine hugs, even when I was just watching them, made me feel good too.

When my sons were little boys, they used to hug and kiss each other all of the time. There was no holding back, no fear about how the hug looked or would be received, there was simply a pure exchange of love.

I think that as adults we would benefit greatly by bringing back some of the enthusiasm and delight in each other that we had when we were children. Maybe we can begin by giving real hugs.

“Hugging is a beautiful Western custom, and we from the East would like to contribute the practice of conscious breathing to it. When you hold a child in your arms, or hug your mother, or your husband, or your friend, if you breathe in and out three times, your happiness will be multiplied at least tenfold. If you are distracted, thinking about other things, your hug will be distracted also, not very deep, and you may not enjoy hugging very much. ….If you feel a little hollow inside, you may want to slap your friend’s back while you hug him in order to prove that you are really there. But to be really there, you only need to breathe, and suddenly he becomes very real. The two of you really exist in that moment. It may be one of the best moments in your life.” pp 85-86 Hugging Meditation, from the book, Peace Is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh

23 thoughts on “Child-like behavior”

  1. There are creepy hugs, weird evasive hugs and then there is that genuine heart hug…they really are few and far between these days. My hair dresser gives me before i walk out the door the best & sweetest hug ever…i keep going back just for that genuine hug…i have even referred people to her because of it..and she cuts hair great too. So a great big sincere hug to you today Mary!!!!

  2. I also love hugs, the connection , the we are one not separate feeling. The last physical connection I had with my husband was a hug and while I didn’t slap his back I did rub it , a jesture I am with you, I am here. When I returned from my morning walk , he had died unexpectedly …… I’m grateful I had that intimate moment . I often think of a James Taylor lyric, ” I always thought I’d see you again” . Now, I understand , I may not. Hugs !!!!

    1. Oh Sandy…..I want to rush to where you are and give you the most heart-felt hug! All I can do is cyber-hug, but please know it comes from a place of deep compassion.

    2. Sandy, What a shock for you and your last connection was a loving, familiar one. It must have been some consolation.
      Some hugs are better than others…it’s the bear hugs I like best…
      SandyP in Canada

    3. I love a good hug, that get close, let your chests touch, squeeze tight kind of hug! My son, who is now 22 was the biggest hugger, he would hug everybody, whether he knew them or not! When he was 17 or 18 I found a t-shirt for him that said “Let’s hug it out” It suited him then and now. I just love that about him. I love the idea of 3 breaths while hugging someone too. Sending hugs to all today, especially you Sandy.

      1. “Let’s hug it out” is a great saying! I might even try to find that T shirt…It makes me wonder how many spontaneous hugs might come my way,
        Thank you Terri

    4. This story leaves me filled with so much emotion Sandy. I tried to read your comment to Jack but we both got choked up. …Sending you so much love and big hugs from us both,

    1. Hugs back to you Jeannie, and thank you about that photo…i can still remember when Tommy entered my room and ran to us, so excited to meet Matt (and they still love each other that much!)

  3. I too love hugs. My natural habit was to hug with the right side of my chest to the right side of the person I am hugging. One day a good friend corrected me…he switched the way | hugged so my left side was on his left side. Heart to heart he called it…I loved the idea and now hug that way all the time.

    1. I am going to pay attention to this,…thank you from my heart to yours

  4. An extra warm hug to you Sandy and to the entire flock. I love to give hugs and my 46 year old son also loves to give hugs tells me he hugs everyone even his cousins, who don’t feel comfortable with it, but tells me they need to get over it. I love that about him. Thanks as always Mary for your post.

    1. I love that too Myrna…it makes me smile to think about your son being so sweet, Hugs, Mary

  5. Oh Mary, I love a good hug! I’m a great tight slow loving hugger. Sometimes my feelings just bubble up and get warm for a person and I just give them a hug! I haven’t had one of those plastic Hollywood hugs in return yet.I think it’s a loving gesture and we all could use a big hug now and then. If I had just told you this in person, I’d give you a big hug then say good-night!

    1. Thank you so much Cindy…I can feel your hug across the miles, Love, Mary

  6. Genuine loving hugs are truly a gift we give one another. Wish I could give you one right now! Marian

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