A magazine that I read here in Spain had a little piece about hugging, and why it’s good for us.

Did you know that a good, strong hug is therapeutic and has health benefits? […] Among other things, a hug lowers blood pressure, helps diminish insomnia, and exercises muscles. But wrapping yourself in the arms of someone you love is very positive for other reasons: it banishes loneliness, stress, and, interestingly, slows the aging process. These are excellent reasons to begin giving hugs to all and sundry.

The author of the article also asked a number of celebrities and politicians who they’d like to hug, and why. The answers ranged from “my dog, because she loves me no matter what” to “my mentor, because she symbolizes human warmth and affection among colleagues.” Really sweet!

I haven’t read all the studies that back up the benefits of hugging, so I’m going to be purely anecdotal here — I know that when I hug Mr. Pants, it feels good! I’m anchored, yet also free. Not a bad way to go through life, at all.

But beyond the usual suspects (significant other, family, friends), who would I really like to hug right now? The answer that comes to mind without any digging at all is Vicente Del Bosque, the coach of the Spanish World Cup team. Although the fervor around the win has subsided a bit, I keep thinking back to what a wonderful example of leadership he gave us all. His presence on the sidelines was always calm and focused. No yelling. No violent gestures. Just loving support, like a father watching his kids play.

And I think that’s the secret of Del Bosque’s success. He really does love the young men who make up La Furia Roja, and he’s fostered loving relationships among them, too. He’s a family man who created a family not only of the players he coached, but of the whole Spanish nation, so often roiled by political and regional differences. And when he spoke about the team’s success, he said,”This is everyone’s victory, the whole family of Spanish [soccer], from the most humble team to the grandest, this is their victory, too.”

It is a delight to see that kind of integrity, honesty, and goodness in elite sports, indeed, anywhere in the public eye. And that’s why I’m sending a virtual bear hug to Vicente Del Bosque.

Who would you like to hug, dear ones, and why? Un abrazo fuerte!