I am not what you would call a “hugger.”
Sure, I hug my close friends and family.
But acquaintances and co-workers? Those hugs feel forced and awkward, and it’s like my body has forgotten how to execute on a hug. Which side do I tilt my head to? Do I use both arms? What if I use only one arm, but it’s the same side arm they use, and our arms meet in the middle in a clumsy hug-and-high-five hybrid?
Don’t even get me started on the boob issue.
Clearly, I am in need of some coaching in the casual hugging department.
But recently, I learned that it’s not just the casual hugs I’m struggling with.
The way I’m hugging my husband and kids is all wrong.
According to The Happiness Project, you need to hold a hug for at least six seconds to get the happy chemicals oxytocin and serotonin flowing.
Why is that important? Those are the chemicals that boost your mood and promote bonding.
After I learned this, I paid attention to the hugs I gave my husband and kids for a couple days. I counted to myself while we hugged.
Three seconds here, half a second there.
Our hugs – if we remembered to exchange them – were rushed.
After a couple days of those quick, bland hugs, I decided to do my own experiment.
When my husband got home from work, I walked up to him and opened my arms for a hug.
Then instead of letting go after a couple seconds, I just kept hugging.
And the funniest thing happened.
After six seconds, my body felt warmer.
Eight seconds, and my body relaxed into his.
Ten seconds, I let go of a deep breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding.
After our crazy busy day filled with work drama and toddler temper tantrums, we just…connected.
Everything else melted away.
A Hugging Challenge for You
After you read this, promise yourself you’ll try a 6-second hug. Say it out loud to yourself, or write it down to make the commitment official.
Then the next time you see your partner, try it out.
After six seconds, I bet you’ll be hooked.
When the day-to-day routine starts to get the better of you, a 6-second hug is the perfect way to connect with your husband or wife.
Your marriage needs it.
How to Find Happiness in the Chaos of Parenting
After my family welcomed our third little one into the mix, we became a family of five with a second-grader, a toddler, and a newborn. Even though I could have used more sleep and way more coffee, we were happy. Then my husband’s paternity leave ended, and I was at home with the kids all day. As time wore on, my patience became razor thin. And one day, I just broke.
The shame burns my cheeks just thinking of that day, even now. But thanks to that experience, I realized I had to make a change. I threw myself into researching how to find happiness in the chaos of parenting. Something beyond “make time for you” and “exercise more.” Because when you’re overwhelmed and at your breaking point, you don’t need the “experts” telling you more stuff to do on top of everything else.
That’s how I discovered the secrets: 10 secrets every parent should know about being happy. After hearing from hundreds of parents in the same boat as me, I knew I needed to share what I discovered. And so I wrote a book: Happy You, Happy Family.
Click here to download a free excerpt and start your journey towards finding more happiness as a parent.
Because the truth is that happiness won’t come from a big promotion at work, or from winning the lottery, or from your kids all learning to put their toys away when they’re done playing. Because eventually, you just get used to all that stuff.
True, lasting happiness comes from a conscious effort by you to put the right habits in place.
Download my FREE cheat sheet: 16 Miracle Phrases to Help You Reconnect With Your Child
Find more scientifically proven tricks to stay connected as a couple in 7 Quick Ways to Connect With Your Partner.
How do you stay connected when real life gets in the way? Share your tip in a comment below!