A Pennsylvania Man Gives Away Free Hugs To Heal Others
Whenever we think of happy events, we tend to think of grand events. Perhaps a grand love story, the birth of the first child, sex, etc. – these are the only things that stir us from within. It’s just the way that media has pushed us to believe – these are the main things that matter when we talk about a ‘happy event’. We forget that the media just shows parts of lives – they are meant to make things appear grand so that their ratings get high. They skip out the ‘mundane’. But in reality, it is the mundane – the small things that slowly build up to become the grand event that we all desire. The small touches, holding hands, talking and the magical smile – everything takes up a lot of value in our lives. We just don’t see it on our television screens. Out of many such small acts – there is the ‘hug’.
Hugs are awesome. You don’t have to believe me completely – science says so. Hugging can act as a massive stress reliever. The reason is that when you hug, your brain releases oxytocin, or what is referred to as ‘bonding hormones’. These help to reduce stress immensely and bring about an uplifting mood. It shows that you belong. Not only that, but hugging can also give you a boost of dopamine. Dopamine is the happy hormone that our brain is always thirsty for. It’s like a reward – an accomplishment. One hug can make you feel accepted – almost as if you have won something.
Maybe John Beck knew about all these positive aspects of hugging. Maybe he did not. But he surely experienced it. And now, he wants others to experience it too. John Beck is a Pennsylvanian man who wants to spread positivity among people – not with words, but with something as common as a hug. Physical touch is much more intimate – much more life-changing than inspirational words. Words have an alien effect to it – written by someone else, it almost seems like a faceless ‘someone’ is talking to you. But when you are actually down, then, you don’t need someone reading out something to you. No – you require something more personal. An intimate touch – something like a hug.
John Beck knew about it. He experienced the want due to the tough times he faced. About 3 years ago, John Beck faced the tragedy of death. His cousin died and he was swept with the sense of helplessness and isolation. Existence seemed to him like something that could end in a blink of an eye. Life just lost meaning for John. He was falling down a pit of depression. It almost seemed like nothing could pull him out of it.
One day, he and his friend decided to just come down to a square and deliver free hugs. Free hugs are something that is generating quite a number of likes on YouTube. People go out with a placard and stand in a crowded area expecting people to come over and give and receive a free hug. John, during his time of isolation and bereavement, needed that sense of acceptance and belonging. He needed meaning to come back to his life. So, free hugs were his last straw in gaining back control of his life.
When the first person came down to hug him, John found something really special about it. It was unusual – two strangers had come together and met in an embrace. Two different stories mingled together for a few seconds in this vast space and time. What are the odds? The person may not remember John, and in time, John’s brain might only have a faded recollection of how the person looked.
But what remained was the magic of the hug – the stranger’s hug.
John understood that hugs were an unsung hero – a simple act which can pull people out of depression too. At least, it worked for him. John became confident that it would work for others too. While it may not pull people out of clinical depression, it will be able to make their day – make their hour feel like a blessing, at least. And in a world filled with negativity, even an hour of a smile is memorable. Beautiful.
John would stand on the square with his placard and get people coming down from cars to hug him. He believes that such a simple action has not only helped him get up from his pit of depression, but it has also healed others too. John is helping people and he knows it. He wants to do it more.
Sometimes, John gets about 70 hugs a day.
He hears stories too – stories that would make anyone cry. One day, he received a tight hug from a 93-year-old lady. She mentioned that she had never married. She did not have any kids. She had no one to hug. That old lady had not been hugged for over 30 years. It was sad – but John tried to make up for all those 30 years with one single hug.
But all the old lady did was fuel up his passion to help others. It was one story that made John both sad and motivated. He knows that there are thousands of hidden stories inside all the people who come to hug him. He is all ears if they want to share it.
But it doesn’t matter if they don’t.
The magic of free hugs is for everyone.