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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Free Hugs Day

One year ago I wrote a short blog post on hugging people and the need to hug more (click here to read).  At that time I had never heard of Juan Mann or read articles on him.  Maybe you haven’t either…  Basically he’s just a guy that noticed a bunch of unhappiness in his world, and he’s been making a conscious effort towards change.  He started in his hometown, Sydney, Australia, where he made a big cardboard sign that had two words:


He held it up high, and waited for someone, anyone, to approach him.  He literally just hugged people.  He’s been hugging people since at least 2004, and has made his campaign and view know to the world.  Oprah even had him on the show – you know that’s big!

He did the offering, and he found out quickly how receptive and in need so many people were/are.  He just wanted to put a smile on a stranger’s face.  Here is one of his stories:

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.”