Add your word to Seth Godin's e-book "What matters now"

At the end of each calendar year, many periodicals publish a forward-looking issue on trends, issues, fads and priorities, rubbing their editorial crystal ball until it shines brightly.

Seth Godin invited 70 people to contribute a 200-word piece each, choosing one word to show what they feel matters now. Seth is giving out this e-book free and inviting readers and bloggers to add their own contribution.

Here’s mine.

TOUCH

Touch is our first language.

Its importance in infant development is equal or greater than that of food.  Touch is not an emotion, but induces feelings that trigger emotions and provokes the release of endorphins.  It is one of the pillars of non-verbal communication that proclaims our humanness and recognizes “the other”. The benefits of touch are so broad the University of Miami launched a Touch Research Institute in 1991.

Many Western societies are touch-deprived because it is socially unacceptable to touch. Virtual communications and health alerts like Swine flu contribute to discouraging touch. When I first went back to Vietnam, I was surprised when near strangers would walk down the street with me, linking their arm to mine. One apologizes when accidentally brushing against a stranger on the sidewalks of New York or Paris. Yet this arm linking eased human connecting and communications; barriers fell. Is the recent popularity of spas and alternative medicines such as message therapy the Western world’s answer to touch deprivation?

Take time out from stroking your keyboard. Relearn your first language, acknowlege those whose path you cross. Touch a hand, touch a shoulder, hug those you care about. It’s a healtful gesture for you and a precious gift to others.

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