There I was, sitting at a bus stop, waiting for the dreaded bus journey to work yet again. I had a bad day so far, and wasn’t excited about the rest of it knowing pretty well how that would end. As I sat on the crowded bench along with other similarly frustrated souls, my glance fell on the scene that was taking place across the road. A cute Chinese guy and a tall Indian girl were standing in the middle of the footpath, holding up signs that read ‘Free Hugs!’
I sneered at the tactics people resorted to in the name of collecting for charity. I turned away trying to engross myself in the latest app in my phone. In today’s time these gadgets at our fingertips keep us occupied every moment. No one seems to be alone. Yet everyone is quite lonely.
I soon found myself glancing at the duo again and again. It was fun to watch people’s reactions to those two. Some were passing by with astonished looks. Some were sneering at them like I first did. And some just moved along oblivious to their efforts to connect. Occasionally a person would come who would actually pause, shrug his shoulders and hug them. Then leave with a smile. By and by, the number of people who hugged them grew.
Stretching myself to get rid of the stiffness in my back, I noticed how a grumpy old man stopped for a moment, hesitated and then started walking past the Indian girl. How long had it been since he last received a hug from someone dear, let alone a stranger on the road? The girl approached the old man and said something (out of my ear shot amidst the passing vehicles). He then moved his shaky arms and extended it towards her. The girl then gave him one of the warmest hug I have ever seen.
Warmth coming out of love… love for a stranger?
The old man walked away with a twinkle in his eyes. And the girl’s smile grew even wider. I couldn’t help smiling myself. That was a really sweet thing right? And it wasn’t for donations too. I had noticed a while back that they weren’t taking anything in return for their hugs. As I sat there watching them, I saw most of the people around me doing the same. And there was one thing common amongst us. We all had a smile on our faces.
That’s when I realised the importance of what they were doing. A genuine heartfelt hug will leave you smiling all day long. People have a childlike need to be loved, and hugs represent an unconditional flow of love from a person to the other, even if it’s temporary. The brief jolt of happiness is all it takes to cheer someone up. That warm, fuzzy feeling that that you experience after a hug will keep you upbeat for the better part of the day. Scientifically speaking, hugs cause the brain to release endorphins, which in turn lead to better healing throughout the entire body. Hugs are also known to lower blood pressure and get rid of stress. The profound power of human embrace generates feelings of well-being that is a form of therapy in itself. With such strong benefits, hugs should be more socially acceptable than they currently are. Not the fake, obligatory, social-greeting type hugs, but a genuine heartfelt one.
To all those who spread love in this unique way of theirs, I just have one thing to say, God bless your wonderful souls.
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