Have you ever been somewhere and seen someone with a FREE HUG sign? Did you take them up on their offer? Did the hug feel nice, or awkward? Did you enjoy it? If you didn’t hug the person, did you think about it afterward and wonder why you didn’t?
One day in late December my husband and I were both feeling depressed and in a state of despair even though it was that time of year when people are supposed to feel festive and happy. We decided to cheer ourselves up we would take our dog, Schroeder, and go into town with the sole purpose of making people smile and giving out free hugs. We made three signs, put them on and set out on the streets of Asheville.
Some people looked at us strangely. Some people moved away from us. Some people laughed when they saw Schroeder, moving closer–happily– to accept some puppy love. Oh, they laughed when Schroeder wagged his tail wildly and tried to lick their faces. We quickly learned several things:
1 That Schroeder does not give hugs–he gives kisses and licks
2. That if we did not take initiative, many people just walked on by
3. At the end of the day, after hugging many, many strangers and sharing many smiles and laughs, WE felt better. In giving out hugs we had managed to cheer ourselves up!
Since then we made giving out hugs a monthly event. We are better at it now–better at warmly inviting strangers to hug us, better at not taking it personally when they walk past, better at letting the hugs go on as long as people need. And Schroeder’s sign now says “Free kisses and licks.”
And so that brings me to the quote of the week, two of them actually, because, as you know, I can never decide:
The first, by Maya Angelou, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
and the second, a fact that was apparent to us almost immediately– it is very easy to make someone smile.
YOU can be reason someone smiles. YOU can make a difference in someone’s day. All it takes is the desire and a tiny bit of effort.