Why Free Hugs?
Each time I watched Juan Mann’s original Free Hug video it brought tears to my eyes on the simple gesture of showing kindness to a stranger. Yet was it truly that simple?
It sure seemed simple, create a free hug sign and find a public place to open your arms and offer free hugs to strangers. Simple? No!! Worthwhile? Yes!!!!
The sign creation simple. Putting yourself out there, opening your arms and thus your heart to strangers took courage. I feared being seen as weird and truth be told, some walked by and seemingly thought just that. Yet far more smiled, said thank your, or got a hug. Some even joined us.
My first free hug experience came nearly a year after starting Positive Focus. Free hugs seemed like the perfect fit for what we were about, so in 2008 I added it to the calendar as one of our gives back events. That first event took place on a cold January day outside of Chicago’s Navy Pier. I had to sign a protest form in order to be allowed to stand there. I arrived first and was too embarrassed to hold the sign up solo (what would people walking by think of me), so I waited until one of my other huggers joined. They came and we hugged. The fear subsided and the amazing feeling of standing witness to a stranger unfolded. The hug was a simple gesture of I see you and you matter.
We continued to offer hugs in Chicago throughout the summer of 2008 and in August I thought why not hug the world. After lots of emails and inquiries, we had our first global free hug event in the fall of 2008. Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined us that year and a second time as well! Now, we’ve made global hugs an annual event that takes place on the first weekend in May.
Many years later and twice a month hugging, I still can get a tinge of ‘what will others think,’ that is until I get my first hug or smile. Whether it’s sunny, hot, cold, raining, or any other weather condition, there is always at least one person each time I hug that I know truly needed it. They needed to be seen. They needed to know they matter. And I needed it too.
Big hugs and much love,
Carol CC Miller
Positive Focus Founder
Global Free Hugs (GFH) Mission & Intentions:
To spread kindness through the simple gesture of a free hug and let people know they matter in this world.
- To increase love and connection around the world with a free hug to heighten celebrations, lessen sorrows and let people know they matter in the world by getting…
- Huggers in every continent
- Huggers in as many countries as possible
- Huggers in all 50 states
- Peace leaders and organizations to participate
How to Participate:
- Have an open heart, open mind, open arms and a willingness to spread kindness
- Create a free hug sign
- Find a public place to offer free hugs to those walking by – enlist friends or go by yourself
- Take pictures and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the Positive Focus Facebook Event page.
- Share your hug experience with us on our Facebook event page or via email.
- Public events preferred, however please join us if you are having a private event and/or simply hugging your family and friends that day. Send your pictures and we will include them on Facebook and in the video if there is room.
- Note: You will find that lots of people will walk by without getting a hug, yet many of them will smile, so know they have been touched as well.
When is the next one?
Global Free Hugs takes place each year on the first weekend of May.
Past Global Hug Locations:
Continent participation: (6 of 7)
Africa, Asia, Australia, England, North America, South America
Country participation: 46
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam
US States participation: 31
Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Washington DC, Puerto Rico
Peace Leaders & Organizations participation:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2), Humanity’s Team, Positive Focus, DH Facilitadores