Hugs can be a powerful tool for conveying emotions that cannot be expressed in words. In this episode, Dr. Stone Kraushaar breaks down the definition of a hug and the science behind why it works. Dr. Stone is a Clinical Psychologist, Therapeutic Coach, and fondly known as “The Hug Doctor”. He believes that all people share a profound human connection and offers his services to those who are looking to be more deeply connected to others. Using his expertise, he devoted his life to developing attitudes, mindsets, skills, and tools to become a world-class hugger. Dr. Stone shares all of this in his program, the 21-Day Hugging Journey, and book, Hug Therapy: A 21-Day Journey to Embracing Yourself, Your Life, and Everyone Around You.
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Why You Should Take A 21-Day Hugging Journey With Dr. Stone Kraushaar
Dr. Stone is a clinical psychologist and therapeutic coach who discovered the transformational power of hugs and the difference they can make for us personally, as well as having a global impact. Fondly known as the Hug Doctor, he professes that we share a profound connection. He advocates for people to live lives full of joyful hugging. He inspires people how to do so literally and metaphorically. He’s an advocate for longer and more meaningful hugs and connective energy that brings acceptance, healing and peace. He’s a joy to explore and teach his pioneering discoveries in his new book, Hug Therapy. Dr. Stone, how are you?
I am awesome. It is such a pleasure to be here. You are such the space of a hug and I love your show.
I’m glad to finally have you. It took a lot to get you here because of my mishigas. For those of you who don’t know what mishigas is, it’s craziness. Let’s talk about hugging.
Hugs are often taken for granted. It’s like we’re rushing out the door and it’s the same thing as saying, “Love you,” to our family. It’s about slowing down, being connected and being present for that hug. This is all existential. It’s about being present. Some of the meditation or mindfulness podcasts that you’ve done, this all loops in nicely with that.
I have a problem being present, so this is good for me. I’m going to take notice of what you’re saying. I can’t wait for your book.
You can order it on Amazon. One thing that I encourage people to do is to have longer hugs. You and Jim, for example. I’m a big fan of Jim. What happens is after twenty seconds, which sounds like a long time, oxytocin is released. That’s why I advocate for a 21-second hug. Once oxytocin is released, it’s good for your stress response, immune system, blood pressure and sleep pattern. There are all these benefits that we have access to for free with people around us as long as people want to have a longer hug. Of course, this needs to be a consensual thing.
I always talk about oxytocin being the cuddle hormone.
Strangers who like each other and want to have a longer hug and feel that energy can have a hug. My book was initially going to be called Hugging Strangers. I believe that we’re all profoundly connected, so there are no strangers. It needs to be a consensual hug, I don’t randomly hug people. I have asked strangers who I felt compelled to give a hug to if they would like a hug.
What do they say?
There are a couple of different situations. The first guy that I asked, he hesitated for a beat and then he was like, “Sure.” We had a five-second hug, like you would have with a good friend that you haven’t seen in a while. I walked away and I was like, “That was great.” It was my first touch into like, “This hugging stuff has much more to it.” That’s when I started seeing everything through the lens of a hug. There’s another instance where I hugged a stranger. That was intense.
I was at a hot spring in Thermopolis, Wyoming with my family. I had this hug with this other guy. The hugging thing is getting more and more in my awareness. I ran into this guy in the pool. My daughter and his daughter are playing together and I’m having this urge to give this guy a hug in the pool. I’m like, “That’s a little too much.” I’m not going to give this guy a hug in the pool. To be clear, I’m a heterosexual male. I’m a big LGBT ally and I’m clear that I’m not attracted to this guy. I just had this urge to give him a hug but I’m not going to do it in the pool. The next day, I had gone for a jog in the morning. I ran into the same guy again by the river and he’s been fly fishing. He’s thinking about buying a second home in Wyoming. He’s from Denver and he’s going through this intense divorce.
Did you know that prior to hugging him?
I didn’t know that when we first talked in the pool and we talked for ten minutes. I’m divorced and it was an amicable divorce. I’m talking to him and we’re connecting. After ten minutes, I asked him, “Would you like a hug?” We had this ten-second hug, which is long for guys. As I’m jogging away, I hear this booming voice inside my head, “You will write a book called Hugging Strangers.” I’m like, “What the?” All I could do was whisper inside my head, “Okay.” It solidified for me at that point. I’m the hug doctor. I see everything in relation to a hug, and that’s when it got real. It was one of those moments where things crystallize and it’s like, “This is what I’m going to do with my life.” This is the direction that I’m supposed to go in. It takes all these different twists and turns. My passion is people going on 21-Day Hugging Journeys.
I saw this on your website. I was like, “This is something I could maybe be into.” Explain to my readers because everybody should do this.
It looks like a lot of different ways. I’m on day eighteen with a group of people and each person is doing it in a different way. My website helps to explain it, but there are fourteen different domains of life. You could rate those and if you pick an area that’s not going as well as you’d like it to, you hug in that area for 21 days.
Give us an example of what are some of the areas.
You could hug your finances. You could hug your fitness. You could hug your family.
Exactly. Hugging your finances might be each day setting aside a certain amount of money on certain things that you don’t want to spend money on and you’re keeping track of it. Ideally, you have a hugging accountability buddy. You have a friend or family member who’s also going on a 21-Day Hugging Journey, and they’re holding you accountable and you’re holding them accountable. You can check in with hugging central as well to help you to enrich this journey.
There’s something concrete that you want to do each day that you have a commitment to. You’re freed up in the world to have more hugs because you’re out and about. You know you’re on day three or day four of your hugging journey, when you’re talking to your family or your friends or somebody in an Uber or something like that. You can share what you’re doing and your excitement about it and then they can get caught up in it too, and people also do it on social media.
It’s a big hug-fest. The feedback must be incredible because this is incredible, Dr. Stone. You must be getting some amazing feedback.
It’s fits and spurts. People here at 21 days get a little freaked out like, “I’m not going to commit to anything for three weeks. I’m already overwhelmed.” Part of my challenge is that I want people to bite off something they can chew. It could be like, “I’m going to take a five-minute walk each day,” or “I’m going to take a bath each day.” A hug for you could be a lot of different things. The self-hug is taking better care of yourself. You can also do a community hug where you’re raising money for a charity. You can be training for a 5K together as a group for 21 days leading right up to a 5K that’s for charity. There are many ways to do it. The trick is not being overwhelmed by that and still jumping in.
This is good for kids too. My boys could benefit from this. Teenagers, too. They are stressed out all the time. They will be able to put their energy somewhere positive.
100%, and I haven’t written something up for an elementary school classroom for a teacher to do it with their whole classroom. We’re working on that. It’s getting through the process of being approved by everyone because it all needs to be consensual, appropriate touch. You can go on a 21-day Hugging Journey without touching anyone. You’d like to be all about hugging yourself, hugging your community. I do want to share with you one example of my dear friend, Gary Habel Jr. He was depressed. In his words, he was ready to nosedive into the pavement. He’s a veteran and he’s been through so much, he’s such an amazing man. He’s a hero. When I first met him, he was in a rough place. I gave him a 21-second hug and then he went on a 21-Day Hugging Journey. He shared that on social media in a way that his family and friends supported him and it was a transformation. It’s figuring out how to bring this to the right people at the right time and that’s why it’s perfect. I am honored to be on your show because I want to get the word out about it and figure out the best way to do that. Eventually, there’ll be an app. We have the hugging calendar.
People will be able to find it. Everyone’s going to be able to get ahold of you, that’s important to me.
I love many of your guests and the things that they’re doing. I see those as huge hugs.
Power Of Hugging: We can get the benefits of oxytocin all we want for free with people around us, as long as people want to have a longer hug.
It’s a learning experience. When I started, I thought, “It will be fun and I’ll do funny stuff.” I realized that people are listening. When you have an audience that I have, I handpick wonderful people like you. My guests are informative, smart and educated. I’m honored to have you on my show. This is fabulous information. It’s relevant and you need to be heard. Your idea is amazing and your book is going to help people. It’s strange, I feel calmer talking to you. It’s peaceful. I’m super high strung in speaking to you, it’s like a hug. You have good juju.
It’s lovely, and your energy is beautiful. Whether it’s coming through intense or more peaceful, it’s great. Keep doing what you’re doing.
My readers will appreciate this episode. It’s important that we share it and it gets spread. Everyone needs to learn this, it’s great information. Tell me some more things about the 21-day Hugging Journey.
I would like to hear more from you though. What challenges might there be with this and how does it occur to you to do it? One of the things I love about your show is how real it is. It’s what I call radical transparency, truth in love, not pulling any punches. The 21-day thing, as your readers are learning about this, I want us to get into how this could be valuable. We tend to put off many things that could be good for us because we have this story that we’re too busy.
I do that. I put off everything and I’ll tell you, this is strange, your timing could not be more perfect. I have not done anything self-health-wise for myself. I’ve been so busy. I started to meditate and I let it go. I was like, “I’m too busy to do this.” I have not done yoga in a year and a half. Yoga was my thing and a year and a half have gone by. Today was the first day I got back on my mat, which is funny because you showed up the same day. It’s the craziest thing that it all came together in one episode, one day and one time. It’s enlightening that you’re here the same time I got on my yoga mat.
Maybe that’s your 21-day Hugging Journey start.
It all came together. It’s the yoga and the hugging. That’s my self-help journey.
It’s all in the space of a hug. What you’ll find in day three, let’s say you don’t do yoga that day and you’re in bed that night and you’re tired and you’re like, “I didn’t do yoga.” It’s okay to miss a day, and you want to look and see what you can put in place so that you do it the next day. That’s where the hugging accountability buddy comes in too. You might want to think about who do you want to be more connected with over the next 21 days that would jump into a hugging journey with you.
I tend to beat myself up. I’m like, “I missed it,” and then I get upset with myself. You shouldn’t do that because that’s against the whole hugging thing.
You would notice that you missed it. At that moment you would give yourself a hug. You accept that it didn’t happen that day and you put something in place. You probably want to pull your calendar out, whether you want to do the PDF version or your calendar hanging on the wall and put down that July 18th. I know how it could be mixed days depending on your podcast. That’s your day one and then put down the next 21 days so you know that your journey is ending whatever day that would be in August.
What happens at the end? Is there something that you do?
I’ll send you something special. I’ll ask you if you want to be a hugging ambassador and then you can spread the word. It’s about us being more connected. I define a hug as any positive, healthy and connective energy that brings acceptance, healing and peace.
When I talk about you, when I put this on social media, I need to have that the definition of hug. I need to put that out there because that is awesome.
Its many different things and many of the awesome people that you’ve had on your show, they’re in that space. It’s like, “How can we get more connected and blow this up in a positive way?” It’s sad how many people we’ve lost to suicide on a daily basis. Veterans, we lose twenty a day. We have people like Kate Spade. The more that we connect as communities, the more we connect so that people don’t feel isolated, the better off we’re going to be in. This is also about having fun.
Don’t take yourself seriously. You also talked about living in the moment and being present. That’s hard for me too. This is good information. I need to get you on some of my friends who have podcasts that are in your same vein. You need to be on some other shows because this is awesome.
I would love that. I’ve gone on 21-day hugging journeys where one of the focuses was to skip more. I was skipping. In the book, I talk about different things that you can do to get in touch with the kid inside of you. This is time-limited, this ride that we’re on. This is like a roller coaster ride and the idea is to be able to put our hands up in the air and scream and enjoy the ride.
People forget that.
Our survival mechanism kicks in and we’re like, “I got to do this. I already did that,” and like, “What about this?”
I don’t live in the moment. I’m tough on Jim all the time too because I’m hustling hard. I’m constantly hustling and I forget to breathe. Sometimes, my shoulders are so high up in my ears and I honestly forget to breathe. He’ll say to me, “Do you need a hug?” He said to me, “Come here. Do you need a hug?” I’m like, “I need a hug.” This all clicks for me now that I’m listening to you and you’re amazing. Thank you for everything that you’re doing. That’s great.
When I’m talking about hugging, I get fired up and it’s like, “This is what I was meant to do.” I do other stuff like testing and things like that, that keep the wheels on the bus. I lost my mom to cancer. She was awesome. This is the dedication in the book, to give you a sense of that existential importance of the hug, Hug Therapy is dedicated to my mother, Judy, who I lost to cancer when I was 25 and she was 52. Every hug I had with her was so precious and I didn’t even realize how precious.
I want this to be a wakeup call for people, not in a heavy-handed way like, “We’re going to die.” It’s in the way of now is the time to go after what you want to create. If you’ve always wanted to take a vacation to Hawaii, your 21-day journey might be creating that with a friend or with your partner. Put that into motion when you’re doing the research, starting to save for the trip, or setting a date when you’ll go on the trip. It could be anything that you want to create, even planning a trip like that.
That in itself is a 21-day journey.
The 21-day hugging journey’s not something to do once and then be like, “I did it.” It’s to do it and learn from it and do it again with different things. I’ve been on more than a dozen and I’ve been on two 21-day hugging journeys at the same time. It’s rich in how you can loop it into what matters to you.
Maybe I’ll say on my Facebook page that people should tell everybody what’s your journey going to be. Maybe we can do a poll or we can do interactive something where people can talk about their 21-day journey, what they’ve decided they’re going to do. Readers, if you want to give a shout out to Dr. Stone and say, “Here’s what my 21-day hugging journey is going to be,” that would be cool to see what everybody’s ideas are. Wouldn’t that be neat?
I’ve never done an interactive podcast. Maybe I’ll do something cool like that.
Hug Therapy: A 21-Day Journey to Embracing Yourself, Your Life, and Everyone Around You
I’d love to send people either PDF calendars or a hard copy of the calendar if this is something they’re jumping into. I have some Hug Doctor pens, t-shirts and stuff.
I never thought about it. Every time I close off my show, I say, “Peace, love and truth.” I’m like, “Let’s do it.” I am always thinking about something. Dr. Stone, tell everybody where they can find you. Tell me your website, your book, everything.
We’re going to get you on some of my friend’s shows too because this is too good to not spread around the world.
I’d love to be on with Jim and see what he thinks about all this hugging.
Jim is not as boo-boo, goo-goo like me.
I get that. For some of you that aren’t into all this hippie stuff, there’s some good stuff here.
I say to him, “Meditate with me,” and he’s like, “Never.” I’m like, “Come on, Jim.” I’ll pull out my astrology stuff and say, “You’re Taurus mercury.” He’s like, “Jennifer, shut it.” He does his thing and I do mine.
He knows when he thinks that you might want a hug. That’s perfect. Have those hugs be longer. Have those hugs more often. Have you offered him a hug?
I never offer him a hug. I’m the worst. I’m sitting here going, “He always says to me, ‘You’re spinning out, you need a hug.’” I never say to him, “Come here and let me hug you.”
Now you’re going on a 21-day hugging journey, perhaps you’ll have a commitment to asking him. Also, with the boys.
I hug my boys all day long. I can’t get enough of them.
Probably they haven’t had too many 21 second hugs with them.
That’s a long time.
The idea is to get lost in the hug.
We hug at night before we go to sleep. We always fall asleep and we are always hugging, which makes me happy. I loved having you, meeting you and talking to you. You’re amazing. I’m in a happy place now.
It’s an honor. I’m sending you the biggest of virtual hugs with brightness, joy and everything you want.
Ditto back at you. Readers, thank you for being here once again. Everybody, go hug someone for 21 seconds. You can find me as usual everywhere. The easiest place is www.JenniferHurvitz.com. I’m going to add a hug. It’s peace, love, truth and hugs. Thank you, Dr. Stone. We’ll see everybody next episode.
About Dr. Stone Kraushaar
Fondly known as “The Hug Doctor,” he professes we all share a profound connection.
He advocates for people to live lives full of joyful hugging. He inspires people how to do so literally and metaphorically. An advocate for longer and more meaningful hugs and connective energy that brings acceptance, healing, and peace. It is his joy to explore and teach his pioneering discoveries in his new book Hug Therapy.
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