People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

I walked around downtown Sydney, Australia in April offering Free Hugs. I came across many blank and confused faces as I walked by with my sign held high, but then, there was a bright, happy soul that kicked it all off with the first hug and they just kept coming after that. I will continue to give free hugs along my journey, but thought it was most fitting to begin in the city where it all began.

The Free Hugs Campaign is a social movement involving individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public places. The hugs are meant to be random acts of kindness….selfless acts performed just to make others feel better. An Australian, Juan Mann, began it all on December 1, 2004 by giving out hugs in the Pitt Street Mall in central Sydney.

The campaign became famous internationally in 2006 as the result of a YouTube music video by the Australian band Sick Puppies. In the months prior to this, Mann had been feeling depressed and lonely as a result of numerous personal difficulties. However, a random hug from a stranger made an enormous difference, with Mann stating that “A completely random person came up to me and gave me a hug. I felt like a king! It was greatest thing that ever happened.”

Mann carried the now iconic “FREE HUGS” sign from the outset. However on his first attempt in his hometown, where he returned to find that he was the only person he knew, as his friends and family had moved away, he had to wait fifteen minutes before an elderly lady came up to him and gave him a hug. Initial distrust of Juan Mann’s motives eventually gave way to a gradual increase of people willing to be hugged, with other huggers (male and female) helping distribute them. The campaign has spread to over 100 countries around the world, turning this simple human gesture into a worldwide movement.

If you feel inspired, go out and spread the love with others! Free hugs for everyone!

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kristiwiley
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 14:21:01

    This is pretty cool. At first, I had the skeptic mind. What if you were a male and not a beautiful female? Would you get the same response?

    My friend came up with something similar with high-fives. He had a slogan…It’s the sound of friendship. Someone else or me added the Spread the Clap…it’s the sound of friendship. We would high-five anyone and everyone. It put smiles on people’s faces. And then, we saw the national high-five day and this guy did a video about it

    Good luck with your campaign. Are you going to do it in every country?


  2. Chris Joffe
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 19:45:27

    Some old creeper was giving away free hugs uptown the other night and he didn’t even have a sign. Wasn’t as cute. Good thing you got all your shots before you left….Just kidding! Good video! I think I speak for everyone in saying we hope there’s a boxing kangaroo in the next video.


  3. 0htheplacesyoullgo
    May 01, 2012 @ 13:53:35

    What a great idea and a beautiful video! You and all the people who hugged you look so incredibly happy. Fabulous!


  4. Jeff Kinton
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 07:59:05

    A Short Video on Love – “Dear”

    Highlights from “New Zealand Hugging it Forward” and Soldier Homecoming Footage. Song, “Dear” by Posture.


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