Last Sunday (April 17th) I went to Rotterdam by train, to spend time with my family and to celebrate my niece’s 8th birthday.

I agreed to meet my sister at Rotterdam Central Railway Station, and as we walked out of the station together, we saw a blindfolded lady standing on the square in front of the station. At her feet she had a piece of cardboard, and it had the following message written on it: ‘I trust you. Do you trust me? Let’s hug!!

I have seen similar social experiments on the internet, like this one in Istanbul, or this one in New York, but I never encountered anything like this myself, until last Sunday.

I immediately smiled when I saw her, and without giving it a second thought, I walked over to this lady. Now I didn’t see anyone hug her before I did, and I don’t know how long she had been standing there before I walked over to her, but when she felt that I was near her, she immediately responded with a really nice warm, big hug. The video of this hug is on my Instagram (click here to see it).

Trust me that I completely get it if this might sound (or look) strange to you. When I woke up that morning, I didn’t expect to walk up to someone I didn’t know and press myself against that person. For some reason though, it felt very natural and completely normal when I did it! And if I had a choice to do it over again, I can tell you that I totally would!

I asked myself if it would have made a difference to me if the stranger had been a man. To be honest, I’m not sure. It might have influenced my initial response a bit, but I will never know for certain. I guess I will find out if I ever get into a situation like this again.

A bit of (scientific) info about why hugs are good for you:
For a hug to be most effective, you need to hug 4 to 12 times a day for at least 20 seconds, they say. Hugging is the fastest way to release oxytocin (also known as the ‘love or cuddle hormone’) in your body, which boosts positive emotions! Oxytocin also:

  • lowers high blood pressure
  • lowers cortisol (stress hormone)
  • increases your sense of belonging
  • lowers your risk of heart disease
  • boosts your immune system
  • and the list goes on..

More about the benefits of hugs  can be found in Dr Mercola’s article.

After hugging the lady with the blindfold, she thanked me, and I told her that I thought it was a beautiful thing she was doing. I walked away with a big smile, feeling even happier than I already did when I arrived in Rotterdam. 🙂

For me, the social experiment was a success. That lady stood there, being very vulnerable, not knowing who would walk up to her and what might happen. And I listened to my heart, got out of my comfort zone and hugged this lovely stranger. I hope many others did the same that day.

I don’t know who this lady is, what she looked like, where she is from or what her name is. It would be awesome if I could find out somehow, and speak to her. I would love to find out how her experiment turned out. Fingers crossed!

Special thanks and big love to my sister Shanaz for filming the hug. ❤

Big hug,
Fauzia

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