It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single hug can change one’s perception of the day, or the week, or the year, thus far. So why is it that we embrace each other so little? Is it the awkwardness? The respectful stance towards personal space? The want to not inconvenience? Or maybe, we lack designated places where hugging is encouraged? Well, one man decided to solve the latter.
He created a little sign on the sidewalk using chalk, which says ‘Hug Here’ or ‘Here Hug’, depending on which side of the street you’re coming from. Regardless of the wording, it encourages the warm embrace of those around us and it’s incredibly wholesome to see.
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More info: TikTok
A sign saying “Hug Here” or “Here Hug” appeared on a sidewalk in Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia, and people have been complying with its demands
One homeowner in Sydney, Australia, has decided to take out the chalk and make a small section of the sidewalk right outside his home a space of love and hugs.
The man, named Paul Grech, drew a heart inside a box and wrote ‘Hug Here’, marking the intended hugging spot with an ‘X’. He finished the artwork with pink hearts intercepted with Cupid’s arrows. Very cute indeed!
Paul remembered a time around 15 years ago when he was visiting Canberra and “there was a girl about twenty years old holding a sign that said ‘Free Hugs’.”
He thought it such a good and happy thing to do, thus, “I asked her if I could use her sign for a little while and I gave away free hugs for a short while.”
The passersby, whether with friends, loved ones or solo, have been hugging left right and center
Image credits: nannu_pawlu
The heartwarming memory followed him into the present and came forth when he was sitting outside his house one morning and people watching.
Paul told Daily Mail Australia, “Everyone was just walking past with their heads down on their mobile phones, or with their coffee in their hands – and I just thought, ‘I wonder if I can do something here. Maybe people would do something silly, like snap out of their mobile phones… I did it as a social experiment, really.”
The security camera caught some of the passersby noticing the sign and acting upon it, hugging their friends and loved ones. One hugging moment surprised Paul, in which a group of young men stopped to give each other hugs. “A lot of people are saying all around the world it is so nice to see guys, mates, stopping there and giving themselves a hug,” Mr Grech said.
In some instances, when no one was available, people hugged themselves and even though it may look silly, there’s good science behind it, which we’ll get into a bit later.
Image credits: nannu_pawlu
The idea came from Paul Grech, who’d been watching people from his home and wondered if he could bring some joy into their day
Image credits: paul_grech_auctioneer
Paul shared the wholesome interactions on his TikTok page and it’s not surprising that it’s amassed over 1.2M views and hundreds of comments.
“Normally when you get a lot of [social media] comments, you get a lot of people being nasty, but I’ve just been getting thousands of comments loving what I’ve done,” Paul told Daily Mail Australia. “I did videos on TikTok, just mucking around… and these videos have gone crazy all around the world.”
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It may come as a surprise for Paul, but it makes a lot of sense why people would grasp onto little moments of wholesomeness.
We don’t hug enough and that is a fact. Paul may be the first one to set up a hug spot and we can all hope it catches traction, with more of them popping up, however, I’d like to bring us back to what started the initiative in the first place, and that is the Free Hugs campaign.
Hugs are incredibly powerful, but it does seem that we hug way too little. Thankfully, there’s Paul and the ‘Free Hugs’ Campaign to aid that
Image credits: istolethetv (not the actual photo)
The random acts of hugging strangers to make their day better started in 2004 by a person who goes by Juan Mann
Image credits: – EMR – (not the actual photo)
The initiative is a social movement of people who offer hugs to strangers in public places. The hugs are meant to be random acts of kindness, performed just to make others feel better. The campaign in its present form was started in 2004 by an Australian man known only by the pseudonym ‘Juan Mann’.
He recalled the time when it all started, saying: “I’d been living in London when my world turned upside down and I’d had to come home.”
“By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry-on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home.”
“I was a tourist in my hometown. Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.”
Being in a very low place in his life, he found some cardboard and a marker and made a sign offering free hugs
Image credits: Jeff Muceus (not the actual photo)
Out of sheer need for human interaction, he found some cardboard, a marker, and out of those made a sign saying ‘Free Hugs’ on both sides.
He went to the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, waiting 15 minutes before anyone would come forth for a hug, before someone did: an elderly grandma, grieving the losses of her daughter and puppy.
Two people, left alone in the world, found each other for a moment in time and made a memory that would last forever. “Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven’t compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time,” said Juan.
According to Healthline, we hug when we’re excited, happy, sad, as hugging, it seems, is universally comforting. It makes us feel good and it seems to make us healthier, too! From increasing heart health to preventing illness, hugs don’t only heal us emotionally, but physically as well. So what’s the secret behind the power of a hug?
Even if you have no one there to hug, you can always hug yourself, and even though it might look silly, it does the trick in tricking your brain
Image credits: Ricardo Moraleida (not the actual photo)
Well, as explained by Very Well Mind, the answer lies in oxytocin, sometimes known as ‘the love hormone.’ The hormone is responsible for attachment, trust, and making us want to spend more time with a person, encouraging bonding.
If you want to squeeze all the benefits you can out of your hug, then according to one study by A. L. Dueren et al., you should be hugging for at least 5 to 10 seconds.
What if there’s no one around you to hug? Well, go ahead and hug yourself! It probably sounds silly, but the act of putting your arms around yourself can be as healing as a regular hug, because hugging yourself is not what your body is expecting.
It’s such an uncommon sensation that it confuses your brain as it tries to unravel where the sensation is coming from. Pain is then blocked because the signals literally get crossed as you cross your arms over yourself.
We hope to see more of Paul’s endeavors and, in the meantime, go hug someone! Or hug yourself!
Image credits: Lukas Spieß (not the actual photo)
So I shall leave you with an encouraging message to go hug your favorite coworkers, your friends, family members, and, of course, yourself. It’s a gesture that doesn’t cost anything and yet the benefits are unlimited. Don’t be shy – go ask for a hug!
We can’t wait to see what Paul does with his sidewalk next, as according to him, “my mind is ticking, believe me… watch this space.”
Let me know your thoughts on the initiative in the comments and I shall hope to see you all again soon! Have a great day, you gorgeous pandarific thing!
People have loved this initiative and the wholesomeness that came from it. Leave us your thoughts in the comments!
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