You may have heard about the worldwide Free Hugs campaign. It's a beautiful sentiment.
It's not a Hug Tour.
Since launching my Hug Tour in April, people have sent me Free Hugs videos, and photos of Free Hugs t-shirts they find wherever they are in the world. It's immensely gratifying to be linked with hugs.
There is a difference, though, between Free Hugs and Hug Tour.
Hug Tour hugs are also free, but they are for people you know. Hugging a stranger is noble, no question, but hugging loved ones can create more than a momentary connection. It can change our relationships and ourselves.
I went on my first Hug Tour (#hugtour on Twitter), because I wanted to give something simple to people that I know and care about. I wanted my gift to be appreciated.
They wanted to hug their loved ones like they really mean it, because they really do.
We care about people, and it's time to show it. A hug is a simple way to do that.
It also works. The Free Hugs campaign is proof of that. People in almost every city have donned Free Hugs t-shirts, or carried signs offering this gesture of humanity and love.
A hug can change you.
Similarly Hug Tour Ambassadors wear their hug t-shirts wherever they go: happy hours, reunions, baby showers, their accountant's office. (My accountant is a great hugger, by the way.)
Imagine meeting up with good friends. Maybe it's a monthly dinner with the girls, or a play date, or the annual office party. These are people you know, who you've perhaps known for years. These are people who see you for who you are.
In the rush of arriving-coats-whodidshebringwithher-Ihopetheylikemyoutfit thoughts that run through our heads, we often rush the greeting too.
Admit it, you didn't put down your purse or your cocktail the last time your best friend walked through the door. It happens.
Hug Tour is about making that greeting a conscious, deliberate act. Hug Like You Mean It.
Take the extra moment to acknowledge that you care about the person standing in front of you, and wrap both arms around them.
I hope that the next time you see a story about the Free Hugs campaign, you'll think of the Hug Tour. You'll think about how much you care about your loved ones and show them. Like you mean it.
After all, you do mean it.