Hugs are good for you.
If you have any doubt that this bit of deep wisdom is true, the bloggers of the world are here to remind you, offering a host of numbered lists that bloggers are addicted to writing.
A quick scan of any one of these posts will tell essentially the same story: Hugs are good for you.
They boost the immune system, lower stress, stimulate oxytocin in the brain, promote feelings of contentment, increase serotonin and dopamine production that reduces pain and makes you happier.
Studies show babies who are hugged fare far better than their non-hugged peers. There’s even evidence that hugging can raise the dead, as more attention grabbing blog headlines reveal:
With all this in mind, I decided to give myself a challenge to count the number of hugs I received here on the Mission in a single day. Before starting this however, I set one simple ground rule: I could not solicit the hugs in any way.
And so yesterday, I walked out of my room and started counting, which was harder than it might sound. The children on the Mission, especially the young ones, are incredibly affectionate, often swarming in packs, jumping, calling to be picked up, wanted nothing more than to be seen.
Which makes it difficult to count when you’re saying good morning to seven children at the same time, attempting to give each a piece of undivided attention.
But I soldiered on.
Before breakfast, after breakfast, on the walk up to school, on the way home from school, during play time, before and after tutoring, heading to dinner, leaving dinner, during free time, and at the intense finale at the end of the day.
When the kids were all in bed, I thought my counting was complete until three of the Small Girls walked into Rick’s room where we eat to say goodnight. Kelly, Sawitri and Kushboo. “Good night, Uncle,” they all said. Hug, hug, hug.
Before I give the final tally, I’ll make a few observations. While a good number of the hugs I receive here are the quick grip-and-go variety, many of them are much more than the sterile, bony slap-on-the-back kind of hugs that most Western hugs are made of. Many of the nursery kids follow up their full-body hugs with a kiss on the cheek, while some of the Small Girls and Boys will hug and then hold on, talking about school or test scores or anything at all, no doubt soaking up all the good huggy vibes all the bloggers are raving about.[frame style=”modern” image_path=”http://indianorphanage.com/io/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/hug-Kevin-and-Jenny.jpg” link_to_page=”” target=”” description=”” float=”” lightbox=”http://indianorphanage.com/io/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/hug-Kevin-and-Jenny.jpg” lightbox_group=”” size=”two_col_large”]
I know hugging is a bit taboo in American, mostly banned in schools for fear of crazy (and not-so-crazy) accusations. But here, there is none of that weirdness. Of course visitors are screened and vigilance is maintained. But generally, there’s such a sweetness around the hug culture on the Mission, I’m sure it contributes in a big way to the overall happiness of the place. Without any scientific evidence to back me up, I suspect the collective serotonin/dopamine/oxytocin levels are off the charts, probably bubbling over into the water, sparkling like fireflies in the air.