Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Street hug happiness?

I think I would be a little thrown off. Though who are we quick to judge, of course we would receive the hug if it were from someone who we knew, but to receive a hug from a stranger? Well, I suppose it seems a less harmful or should I say, risky, way of human contact compared to those who enjoy say, a 'one night stand'. Who are we to refuse the embrace from someone unknown, when there is more danger in spending the night with someone quite unfamiliar?

Don't you think it's funny when our animalistic instincts over ride our affectionate ones too?

'"Action for Happiness is based on the principle that kindness breeds happiness. It encourages people to perform small acts of generosity – from hugging to holding open a door, saying sorry or giving up a seat on the bus.

The group says it already has more than 4,000 members from 60 countries, and hopes millions of "happiness activists" will march forth to spread goodwill around the world.

"It's a movement for radical cultural change, away from a culture based mainly on self interest to one based mainly on promoting the happiness of others," Layard said.

The group's launch in a London conference venue resembled a festival of positivity, attended by throngs of chatting people and representatives of groups ranging from the Happy City Initiative to marriage counseling service Relate.

Inside, attendees held a moment of mass meditation. Outside, a group of "guerrilla huggers" dispensed physical contact to surprised but mostly welcoming passers-by.

Many of those involved think they know the reason for unhappiness – in our hyper-connected world, many of us are starved of human contact.

"We don't have enough touch in every day life anymore," said Majella Greene, 43, a graduate psychology student and one of the guerrilla huggers. "Young people and people who work remotely don't have enough contact with other people."

Her group sets out to remedy that by sweeping down on busy urban locations and offering hugs to office workers and lunch-hour shoppers. While some rush past – "I'm anti-hug," says one man – many stop for a quick embrace.

"It's easy to be cynical about it, but why not?" said James Cowan, 29, a marketing worker. "It puts a smile on people's faces."'

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