In 1943, an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow published the paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, later expanded into a book Motivation and Personality. In it, he ranks human needs in a hierarchy, where each lower level need has to be met before people become motivated by needs higher on the hierarchy. It is a very popular explanation of human motivation, so you have probably seen it before.
While there is a debate about where exactly human needs lie on this hierarchy, people agree that we have these needs. It’s a very useful idea to think about having to satisfy lower needs before we can focus on higher ones. Art cannot happen when you are fearing for your life.
Baby monkeys will choose starvation above the lack of a soft embrace. Research has shown that they prefer artificial substitute mothers that are soft and warm to those who are made out of metal but fitted with tubes that provide milk.
Human babies also have a big need for comforting touch, and babies who don’t get enough of it end up with mental health, relationship and a host of other problems. We need the comforting touch to learn the give and take of love and to feel secure. Human relationships are very important.
People in hospital recover faster and have less pain if they get massages. Having a strong social support network makes you healthier and helps you recover faster. You also have a lower chance of dying early. Nobody really knows why emotional support and touch are so good for you, but they are. It has something to do with oxytocin(a bonding and feel-good hormone) and the relaxation it creates in your body. How your nervous system is conditioned also has an effect. Genes might play a role.
The evidence seems clear: having happy and loving relationships that include physical touch is fundamental to reaching maximum happiness and life satisfaction. Plus, it just plain feels good, so why wouldn’t you want to have more of it?
The obvious (but not so easy) way to do this:
Ask for more hugs. Give more hugs. Change your habit of greeting with a handshake, and replace it with hugging! Yes, you will get a few stares. Some people will refuse. Almost everybody will say yes. Everybody loves hugs, but most of us are too afraid to ask for them.
“Not done” in the business world you say? Well, then you should ask yourself why not? If you don’t trust each other enough to be friends, why should you trust each other not to stab each other in the metaphorical business back? There are many opportunities so you don’t have to deal with people you don’t trust.
Spread the love and give a hug!
To happiness, and beyond!