In the stillness and quiet of my first waking moments, I like to begin my day by listening to Spirit for a word or image to center my day on. While it’s usually things like joy, curiosity, care, calm, and the like, the other day, much to my surprise it was SNUGGLE. With a laugh and a smile I embraced this mentality, and as the day progressed I realized: WOW, approaching life, others and myself with a “snuggle” mindset is FANTASTIC across the board. With that in mind this is blog is on The Gospel of Snuggling.
Remember the saying: “Hugs, not drugs”? Cheesy? Possibly. Cliché? Perhaps. True? ABSOLUTELY. One of the most fundamental human needs is connection, and this craving for intimacy spans physical, relational, and spiritual contact. Perhaps the simplest and most powerful way to hit all three of these is with a good hug. Along these lines, I’ve read and heard that drugs were a HUGE problem with American soldiers over in Vietnam during the war. A good number of our troops got addicted to substances while deployed, YET once they came home it wasn’t a problem. They quit easily and quickly. Why?
Note: I figure I should mention I’m going to mostly use snuggles and hugs interchangeably, as while snuggles are more intimate, the affects and gist of the actions/mentality is the same in my mind. 🙂
Generally speaking, addictions (whether shopping, drugs, sugar, sex, porn, Facebook, hoarding, or anything else) are a form of numbing, which is typically an attempt to escape a bigger hurt. And I wonder: Who of us doesn’t numb and escape at least sometimes? Humans deeply desire to belong, be valued, and be loved, meaning more often than not, addictions are symptoms of and an escape from NOT belonging, feeling unworthy, and being unloved. I say this because it seems Vietnam vets quickly and easily left wartime addictions because they returned home to a welcoming, affirming, and loving home, family, and/or community.
What is more, hugs, or snuggles with those you’re more intimate with (pets included), are scientifically SUPER good for us. Hugs turn on the pleasure centers in our brains and increase our dopamine, which means snuggles/hugs literally increase our joy, peace, and love. Hugs light up our entire being, as they physically communicate deep belonging, value, and love, which is why I invite students to hug someone after every yoga class I teach. Hugs leave us feeling ALIVE and energized.
(My daughter and I embracing 🙂
While we generally (in America anyway) only hug family and friends, and save snuggling for spouses, partners, children, and pets, it seems to me the more often we approach more people with literal and metaphorical arms and hearts wide-open (a snuggle mentality), the kinder, more joyful, and more loving we ALL become. Instead of only hugging people we’re “close” to, what if we hugged as many folks as possible TO draw closer to them all?
The path to a better world, nation, city, family, community, and relationship is increased understanding, connection, and caring, ESPECIALLY between people/groups with different views on things, contexts, ethnicities, etc. Brené Brown’s mountains of research and evidence indicate the Gospel of Snuggling is how we achieve this dream for a better future by concluding: “People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.” Her, and my, point is, regardless how different someone is from us, as we get to actually know people and people groups up close and personal, we learn their stories, we understand them better, our hearts warm toward them, and, we increasingly realize we’re not so different after all. As the singer P!nk says: “We’re all pink on the inside”. We each have the same desire to be seen, affirmed, and loved.
A third transformative aspect of having a hugging mentality shows up in how we approach the world and our lives. To hug a person is to express you love her or him AS they are, beauties and bruises, darkness and light. Does this mean we passively let our friend remain addicted to drugs, stay abusive or abused, and so on? No! While we can’t change other people, real and lasting changes are an inside job; we can and should have a conversation (or 10), and at some point an intervention. My point here is we START and END with an embrace. Our beginning point with people near and dear to us is unilateral welcome, approval, and love. Period … even if this needs to include boundaries. Hopefully, when you think of the people who bring the biggest smile to your face, you’ll see this to be true.
Life and the world are much the same. It seems to me, we should fully and freely snuggle/hug the world and our lives, as if they were our best friends EVER! Smile at them. Celebrate them. Be grateful for them. Choose to LOVE the life we have and world we live in, because they’re the ONLY ones we get. Plus, when there are changes to be made and interventions to be had (like healing the racial, political, and religious divides in the U.S.), Love is always and forever the technology for cultivating them.
I was going to end on that note, but then it occurred to me a final aspect of the Gospel of Snuggling could be super helpful: Self Snuggling. While this is related to life, it’s not quite the same. Can we hug, smile at, celebrate, and encourage ourselves in the same way we would the person we love and are inspired by most in the world? I think we can and should. When we live and move from this place of fullness, when we tune into and live with the awareness our Creator loves us exactly AS we are, and when we realize there’s a never-ending pool of love God invites us to draw upon, our worlds become brilliant, vibrant, and alive with color.
More snuggles, less struggles. What do you think about the Gospel of Snuggling?
Grace and peace,