You drastically underestimate the power of touch. Actually, I’m wrong…
The research says we’re really big on touching — our phones, that is. People touch their phones 85 times a day.
But how many times a day do you touch someone else? Probably not nearly as often. That’s kinda messed up, don’t ya think?
You need to touch people more. It will improve your life. Sound like Hallmark-Card-bumper-sticker-hippie-nonsense? Wrong.
What happens when babies are deprived of touch? It can screw them up for life. As David Linden, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University writes, “Touch is not optional for human development.”
But you’re not a baby, right? Doesn’t matter. Linden says touch is still vital.
Saying that touch helps with relationships might seem obvious but the research shows touch improves nearly every area of your life. For instance: want to know the secret to success they don’t teach in any MBA program?
Yeah. Smooches. Don’t worry; I’ll explain…
Affection Makes You Successful
Am I recommending kissing in the office? No, not unless you find the chairs in the HR department comfy. But kissing before work? It might extend your life and boost your salary by 30%.
Once you’re at work the kisses need to stop — but that doesn’t mean platonic touching should.
Need help on a project? Touch your coworker on the arm when you ask. They’re far more likely to give you what you need:
And what does the research say about touching and teamwork? Next time you’re watching a basketball game pay attention to which team high fives and fist bumps more often — because they’re probably going to win:
Some will say that’s correlation, not causation. But how does neuroscientist David Linden interpret the findings? He thinks touching improves cooperation and performance.
But what if you don’t work on a team? What if you just work with numbers all day? Touching still helps. Believe it or not, massages improve math skills:
(To learn what Harvard research says will make you happier and more successful, click here.)
So a little bit of touching can boost success. But work isn’t where most of your happiness comes from. What’s a dead simple prescription for boosting happiness at home?
Hugs Really Do Make You Happy
Researchers at Penn State told a bunch of students they had to give or get 5 hugs a day for a month.
Of course, college students are terrible at following instructions so they only ended up averaging 49 hugs over the four weeks. But it didn’t matter…
What’s the magic ingredient in hugs? That simple squeeze increases your oxytocin levels. Oxytocin tells your amygdala (the fear, anxiety, and aggression headquarters of your brain) to chill out.
Via The Upward Spiral:
Want to take it to the next level? Get a massage. Now you don’t need me to tell you massage makes you feel better…
But did you know it helps your brain build good habits that can increase happiness down the line? That it reduces pain? That it reduces fatigue and improves sleep?
Via The Upward Spiral:
(To learn the 8 things the happiest people do every day, click here.)
So you’re getting your recommended daily allowance of hugs. Awesome. But you really should get that massage as well — and get it from that special someone — because it does a lot more than just make you happier…
Massage Strengthens Relationships
Pay for some massage oil and you may not need to pay for a divorce attorney:
How do you get your partner to give you a massage? Tell them it will make you more attractive — because it can. That rub down can prevent wrinkles:
Affectionate touches mean so much that merely noticing them can turn you into a Sherlock Holmes of relationships. Want to know how happy a couple is? Just pay attention to how often they kiss:
Even better, want to know how happy you are with your relationship? Just ask yourself one question:
When you’re stressed, how much better do you feel when you hold your partner’s hand? Happier couples feel more relief:
(To learn what science says about how to be better at flirting, click here.)
We’ve covered a lot. Let’s round it all up and learn what the long term result of more touching, hugging, kissing and massage is…
Here’s what we learned about the power of touch:
Okay, that’s a lot of formal science about the most informal of subjects. But what happens if you listen to all these cold, clinical studies? You’ll be considered a warmer person. That’s nice, right?
No — it’s awesome. When people perceive you as warm they also see you as having a ton of other wonderful traits. But most of all, they trust you more.
I’d give you a hug right now if I could, but I can’t. So instead… I’ll give you homework:
Try that Penn State experiment yourself: give or get 5 hugs a day.
They can be from anyone. Can you do it for a month?
Remember, people reach for their phone 85 times a day. Maybe try reaching for a hug instead?
Join over 262,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.
More Must-Reads From TIME
- Inside the White House Program to Share America's Secrets
- Meet the 2024 Women of the Year
- East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment
- The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap
- Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does
- Column: The New Antisemitism
- The 13 Best New Books to Read in March
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time