The Hugging Story

You know small, forgettable comments or things that happen, but actually hang around and affect your life for years?

For me, one of these moments has to do with hugging.

It changed how I approach hugs, how I think about things I say, and I realize now how much unknown impact you and I have. If we’ve hiked together, drank together, or otherwise hung out, this is one of the first stories I share.

It started at a crosswalk…

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The summer before my first year of college, I went on an epic kayaking trip with fifteen other students, most of whom were also starting college. We bonded, kayaked, and even played an abstract, paperless version of tic-tac-toe[1].

A few months later, after grocery shopping[2], I ran into a friend from the trip at a crosswalk.

We hugged, of course.

Then she told me something like, “That was not a good hug. You should give better hugs.”

The next few years

I'm moving into a room.

This is actually from the start of my second year. Such young. Much short hair. Wow.

Hugs weren’t on my mind.

They weren’t a priority. I don’t remember if my hugs were skillful or unskillful. There was no self-reflection on hugging. I didn’t even remember the comment!

I have asked friends if they remember how I was. Most don’t remember but a few have said, “Yeah, Andy—you kind of were an awkward hugger.”

Hug reflection, it’s a thing

At some point in the past three years the crosswalk comment came back to me. More often after hugging, I began to consider how it went. Was I satisfied or could it have been better? Was it appropriate? How could it be changed?

I strove for improved hugs, fitting to whatever context.

La Jolla Valley

The world is so cool!

Anything can make a difference!

I’ve admired people who can wink well. I recall, and still smile, at smiles from unknown strangers.

I also remember words yelled out of car windows at me—and instances when I have spoken with or about others in hurtful, unskilled ways.

It has been almost ten years since the hug comment at that crosswalk. It bothered me—and inspired me—to take action and improve my hugs, which, based on years of reflection and increased participant-reported satisfaction, has arguably happened. (When I traveled to South Korea last summer, friends said they would miss me, but some said they might miss the “Andy Hug” more.)

Empowering other people to hug for me!

“I, Andy King, entrust Steven Jordan to greet and hug in my stead for the duration of my absence. 6/15/13.”


Because why not!

What small comments or actions have affected you? What small things have you done that affect others?

Could you make a small intention to take something you do daily and build positive change in whatever way from it?

Comment below, or post them elsewhere using #commonchange.

Have some awesome moments sometime soon!

  1. The traditional tic-tac-toe square is assigned numbered quadrants, starting with one in the top left and ending with nine in the bottom right. Two players say numbers turn-by-turn and you just imagine Xs and Os on the board. Try it sometime!  ↩

  2. I grocery shopped at La Jolla Village Square in La Jolla near UCSD. This shopping center has the most poorly designed parking lot of all time. It is even reviewed one star on Yelp!  ↩

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2 thoughts on “The Hugging Story

  1. Mom

    Oh the things I thought of in response to this…first of all I can’t restrain myself from commenting. That young boy-man was all affection, arms and legs akimbo. I’ve treasured every single hug and am lucky enough to have shared many over the years. This made me both laugh out loud and puff out my proud mother’s chest. Good God you’re a good man:). I love you Andy. Guess who?

  2. Laura Meyer

    Every moment, every interaction with another individual, we all have the choice to either put something positive out into the world or something negative. Those little, seemingly forgettable moments are the ones that count in our lives, mainly because the real “stuff” of life is made up mostly of little moments. You, Andy King, make the most of those little moments. You take time. You share. You put yourself out there. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work on the hugging issue.


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