I Can't Take It Any More
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
- Leo Buscaglia, American author, motivational speaker, "Dr. Love" (1924-1998)
When someone has the power to change lives, to make others feel as if their lives have been saved and are much improved, that person deserves attention.
To me, Leo Buscaglia was "the Hug Doctor." He hugged everyone. Even other men did not feel threatened as Leo's infectious smile convinced them that they wanted to be hugged by him. He made others want to hug each other.
My father introduced me to Leo Buscaglia through the latter's many PBS specials. It shocked me when my father first hugged me after seeing Dr. Buscaglia. As a young man who played competitive hockey in a violent league, my father was more apt to fight (even to need police protection because of it) than to hug. As a father he avoided hugging me as he preferred hugging a liquor bottle.
My father didn't know how to hug, had no idea how important touch was to a child. A fatherless child himself, he didn't know much about parenting.
He had given up alcohol at age 65. He started hugging after he saw Leo. My father came to like hugging. I came to believe that he was a pretty good guy after all. Before he retired he was just the man who came home for supper and naps. Not for hugging.
That sequence of events is important. From Leo I learned that everyone likes to be hugged. As I studied the subject more, I began to understand how important touch is to people. Strange as it may sound to those unfamiliar with the subject, loving touch (hugging is a prime example) is the way we measure love.
We may not know for sure what love is, though everyone wants it, and most of us don't know how to measure love or how to give it in such as way that the message of love will be accepted and understood. Now you do. Give it with a smile, by holding hands, by dancing, with flowers, any way you like. Just make sure you back up your message with loving touch.
It doesn't really matter what kind of touch so long as it's understood as loving by both people. As the Nike ads say, just do it. Something deep inside us tells us that the people who love us most touch us most.
What does hugging have to do with worry, the core of the quote? Quite a bit, as you will see.
Worry has no positive side. It's all negative. Worry has never solved anything, but it has destroyed lives and relationships. What's more, people worry mostly about things that never happen. It's like an addiction. How can a person stop worrying if he or she is a worrying kind of person?
How about a hug? No one can give and receive a decent hug and worry at the same time. But hugs last only a few seconds, so how can a person stop themselves from resuming their ingrained habit of worrying?
One hug will not suffice for anyone. Eighteen a day will. Every day. (What? Is he joking?) If you can't imagine hugging someone you love 18 times every day, you need other forms of loving touch to substitute in for the hugs you can't perform.
You will find it extremely hard to worry when someone you love and who loves you hugs you or touches you in a loving way 18 times every day.
Can't fit that in? Can't imagine someone who loves you finding time? That's like saying you can't find time to put gas into your car. You can find time if it matters. Love matters, at least if you want to keep it.
Do you have trouble coping with your problems sometimes? Maybe most of the time? The biggest part of a coping deficit is confusion. The easiest way to alleviate confusion in your life is to have lots of love in it. How do you get that? Right, hugging and loving touch. (See? You have been paying attention.) Your mind will be better prepared to cope with problems in your life if it doesn't get bogged down in its search for love.
Your mind will be clear and your problems seem small if you don't feel a lack of love. And how will you know if you have enough love in your life? For one thing, you won't be worrying about your problems. For another, you will feel loved.
Yes, it really is that simple.
Leo Buscaglia was loved by everyone he knew. At least by everyone he hugged. And who hugged back. I have seen two documentaries that showed two women who lived alone, in different cities (they may both have been widows) who knew they needed hugs but could no longer get them in the way they formerly could. Each one went out onto a main street in their city and asked total strangers if they wanted a hug. In each case, more than half of the strangers said they did want a hug. They got one. None complained.
Some came day after day for more helpings.
Love, hugging, lack of worry and having the ability to cope with our problems all help our immune systems to function at their best. Studies have shown that immune systems are compromised by worry over problems and lack of love.
How do you get love if you don't have enough or someone to give you more hugs? Love has a secret. Just as hugging requires at least two people, love works best with two or more. However, while a hug usually requires equal participation by all parties, love does not. Give love and you will get back more than you gave. You may not get back more from everyone, but the extra from some will more than make up for it.
Who should you give your love to? Turn it around and ask yourself if you would refuse an offer of love from anyone. But...love? Sometimes love is shown simply by caring for others. Care for someone who has no one to care for them.
Care about others who need your help. They will perceive it as love. You will feel good.
Now go and practice what you have learned. Just do it.
Prove to yourself that it works.
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, teachers and anyone who wants to learn the basics of what everyone should know about life.
Learn more at http://billallin.com