I’m a hugger.
Four months into my first semester of law school, I made the following observation:
“Nobody hugs in law school”
Since then, it’s been a recurring obsession of mine. I frequently lament how we are a disconnected, unemotional group of people. We complain a lot(see above). We typically divide our time among three soul-draining activities: 1/3 studying, 1/3 complaining about stress, 1/3 drinking.
Law school is a spiritual wasteland.
It was clear early on, I didn’t much care for lawyering. I decided to use my three years of professional school to focus on personal growth and transformation (don’t tell my parents). I’ve been on a journey to be a better person ever since.
Most days it’s proved more challenging than case briefing, outlining and final exams.
Just this year I’ve: read three books on happiness, started a daily meditation practice and done more yoga than most people do in a lifetime. Still, every time I think about my “law school self” I feel disappointed in my spiritual progress.
But just last weekend something incredible happened. My best friend at the law school sent me this video.
It felt like a calling. Like a mandate from the universe: Eight hugs a day.
I told my friend, starting Monday, I was launching an all-out assault on the law school community. A hugolution. No one was safe.
I was convinced I could change the entire climate of the the law school(maybe law schools everywhere?), one embrace at a time.
As I walked to school Monday morning I felt anxious. What if people don’t want me to hug them? What if they think it’s weird? uncomfortable? inappropriate?
I shook off the self-doubt and re-committed to my resolution.
I hugged every single person I saw that morning. It felt extraordinary. By the time I saw my best friend at noon, I was up to seven hugs. By the time I left at 4p.m. I had made at least 30 beautiful connections.
The response was more than I could have ever imagined. The people I thought would be most resistant received my hugs with the greatest enthusiasm. Each time I hugged someone, I watched them brighten. I watched the people I hugged, hug others. The glow of love and vulnerability followed me around
So simple. So powerful.
In just one day, I felt and witnessed how hugging dissolves the emotional walls between us. We spend so much time fearing judgment, masking insecurity and performing for each other, we rarely experience true connection with anyone but our most intimate family members and friends.
But each time I hugged someone that day, I felt like we were part of each other. There was an immediate sense of understanding, connection, oneness. It changed our entire interaction.
The hugolution came in the wake of some ugly things happening at other UC campuses. I could see immediately how the energy and magic of the hugolution represented an important opposing force to the type of senseless brutality taking place in the occupy movements.
We draw lines of separation between ourselves and others: value systems, religions, ethnicities, education, experience. The more we focus on defining our difference, the less we understand the ways in which we are intimately, undeniably connected. The less we understand our connection, the less inclined we are to treat each other with love and compassion. The absence of love and compassion is the root of violence. Re-cultivating love and compassion is the only way to combat it.
If we can connect with other people in a way that reveals them as reflections of ourselves, we can’t help but treat each other with care and consideration.
Anger disappears. Violence is impossible
This was my greatest lesson from the hugolution. It started as a way to bring a little more joy to my already abundant and beautiful life. Immediately, I could see how spreading love creates love and that we need to feel love to spread love.
It’s a small thing with a big purpose.
Hug it out ya’ll.