The recipe of the Free Hug
by Amandine Tut
Do you know something that costs you nothing and brings you a lot? All you need is a piece of cardboard and a pen to make a good sign and a big smile!
I first started “Free Hugs” for an English class exercise. My teacher, who was introducing us to Positive Psychology, asked us to do something nice for people we didn’t know. It was the best exercise I ever had! When I saw Focallocal doing it in London I was really excited to join in and I had such a great time that I started to organize Focallocal events in Lyon (France).
Some people in the street might say they have enough hugs from their loving partner, particularly because in France, “hug”1 refers to something intimate. Nevertheless, hugging someone you know gives a different kind of good feeling.
In our modern societies, some people might feel uncomfortable when someone unknown talks to them, even just to say “Good Morning”. It’s even worst in big cities like London. So interacting with strangers and sharing something friendly like a hug or smile sometimes feels like it is going against whats normal in our society, but in a positive way that brings happiness. Even if some people don’t want to hug you, most of the time you make them smile or laugh and that’s a big success too because then they are going to say to those close to them “Hey guess what I have seen today?”
Through words or through behavior, positive acts seem to be contagious; as are negative acts on what the media unfortunately tends to focus. Imagine yourself in the mall; the probability you will hold the door for the person behind you is higher if the person before you held the door open for you.
I have seen the same effect during the Free Hugs Event I organized in Lyon in December 2013: we were an all group doing free hugs in a street. One of the participants hugged an unknown woman. After the hug another unknown woman was walking in the street and the first woman naturally hugged the second – so sharing one positive action with one person, spreads out to many others they meet; and one Free Hugs event can bring positivity and happiness to many people in your cities lives!
It’s very difficult to describe this experience. The best advice I can give you is to try; however you live!
*1: We translate “hug” as “câlin” in French