Four Steps to Adopting a Habit of Hugging

Do you ever know in your heart that you should do something, feel the desire to do it, but then fail to make it happen?

This happened to me, again, the other day.

I was seeing our youngest son off as he headed out on the 30-minute drive back to college. He had returned to gather some more things for his new apartment.

As we said our good-byes, a little voice in my head told me to give him a hug, along with shaking his hand. But what did I do? I only shook his hand. Unfortunately, it’s a long standing habit of mine.

Immediately afterwards, I knew I’d missed another special chance to let him know how much I love him.

There are probably a host of reasons why I struggle with this, but I think analyzing my past would be a waste of time and energy. Instead, I’d rather work on adopting a new habit of hugging.

Here’s the four-step plan I’ve laid out:

  • Declare to myself, my wife and my sons that the future me is a “hugger”. A declaration is the starting point for any change in the way you want to show up in the world. It forces you to choose the words and language that best describe the “new” you.
  • Ask others to hold me accountable. In general, I’ve found that people like helping people. All it takes is to ask for help. By doing so, you’re building a valuable support system that can regularly remind you of your desire to adopt the new habit.
  • Monitor and track my progress. Writing down how many hugs I give each day may seem a little cumbersome and mechanical, but I’m a visual person who needs to see and feel my progress. I don’t expect this to be necessary after hugging becomes a habit.
  • Bask in my success. It’s important to take time to regularly reflect on and enjoy the success of a new habit. It just feels good. Of course, a hugging habit lets you and the other person feel good physically too!

“Sometimes I just take out my prescription pad, and then I write out a prescription for four hugs a day—one at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.” Dr. David Bresler (UCLA faculty)

Question: Who could use a hug from you today?