I’m not too sure, but I’m assuming my Mom gave it to me when I was still a baby. She opened her arms around my chubby, yet fragile, body and embraced me. I rolled a little to the side, my body shook and I surrendered. She pulled the trigger: my mother gave me my first special and powerful hug.
When growing up I didn’t pay too much attention to this powerful weapon. I used it many times without even noticing how I affected other people. I would say that it took me 21 years to learn how to handle such a special thing. A friend of mine reminded me the power of a great hug while I was struggling to learn English. It was a stressful time in my life. I had recently graduated, I got my first job as a reporter at a big newspaper and I was planning my first trip abroad. Every time I felt sad, insecure, or exhausted this friend would show up and share his weapon with me: a friend’s hug.
Last year, I joined an entrepreneurial program in Silicon Valley for the Summer where I met Yay Shin. She has a beautiful and thoughtful purpose in life: to give people hugs. During the program, she created a hug machine called “Baymax”. Yay discovered her mission after a girl at her college jumped of the roof and died. I still remember Yay’s sweet, warm and gathering voice as she shared the story. She said:
I didn’t know the girl. In fact, I might have seem her once through the aisles. I have no idea what was she going through, yet I felt responsible. What if I had said “hi” to her? What if I had invited her to do something? Or even better and more simple: what if I had hugged her?
Yay believes a hug can save the world. I believed in that too. I remembered this tweet:
On that day, I was having some problems with my coworker. After tweeting this, another colleague came to my desk asking if I wanted a hug. Then, I decided to stand up and hug the colleague that I was having a problem with. The energy in the environment changed immediately. My tension ceased, the muscles on my face became relaxed and I smiled. I felt him. I touched him with compassion and love. I hope he felt the same.
Today, after hugging the man I love long, deeply and intensely I felt the connection that I’d lost. (BTW, You should totally try Pillow episode “As simple as a hug” with your partner!) By having his arms around my body, placing my head on his shoulders and letting any anger, fear, or insecurity go away.
Hugging activates a response in the brain that is responsible for release of Oxytocin, a hormone, that cause contractions and speed up the birthing process, stimulates the release of breast milk and also has a significant role in sexual arousal and in orgasm, in both men and women.
Oxytocin is the bullet that comes out of our brain as a neurotransmitter that acts on the limbic system, which is the brain’s emotional center. That’s why after a hug we feel that contented and we can watch our rates of anxiety and stress drop.
After all, I’m pretty sure that if there is a weapon capable of saving the world, that it’s not the power of the United States, China or Russia. It’s in each of us! Liberate your Oxytocin, hug someone!