Touch is necessary for personal growth


Any form of touch, from a simple pat on the back to a kiss on the forehead can be the most impactful things in life. Looking back on my childhood, I’ve come to cherish the warm embraces from my grandmother and the little hand squeezes from my mom. Although these simple touches are temporary, the amount of love that they leave is forever.

In a book I’ve been reading, ever-lasting kindness and happiness has been a main theme. This book is titledThe Book of Joy.” The wise words of the Dalai Lama, a buddhist spiritual and political leader, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a cleric leader, explain why human touch is so vital, and I believe this to be incredibly true. 

It starts simple. Humans need other humans to survive and flourish. We are social creatures that crave acceptance and involvement. According toThe Book of Joy,” scientists have found that we actually need love in order to survive. 

Starting at birth, touch becomes extremely vital for proper development. The caress of a mother on her baby sparks activity that promotes cognition and resilience to stress in the baby’s brain. 

I find this incredibly beautiful and fascinating. When I first reflected on this, I wondered if I got that much-needed affection, considering I was put up for adoption when I was an infant. Did I properly develop? Did I receive the early love I needed? 

The answer to that question is yes. I was dropped off at the orphanage doors in Fuling, China swaddled in blankets. My caregivers told my adoptive mother that it was evident that my birth mother cared for me dearly. There was never a gap in affection or love. 

Though my caregivers weren’t related to me biologically, my mother told me that they showed me unconditional love. This I’m eternally grateful for. 

Some people haven’t had it this way. According to Psychology Today, due to a lack of touch, some babies develop higher amounts of a stress hormone called Cortisol. This damages the hippocampus, which is in charge of memory and linking them to sensations. This can leave those people feeling unconnected to life and the people around them. 

This is why “The Book of Joy” has emphasized the importance of “unbiased love.” Unbiased love is something that humans need to develop. We often become so picky on who we give our love to due to judgement and self-centeredness. I remember kids telling me that my adoptive mother would never love me as much as my birth mother could. 

That is so far from the truth. 

I was passed in the tender hands of multiple caretakers who loved me for me. Human touch is simple, and love should be too. It didn’t matter who wiped my tears or caressed my head as I fell asleep.

It was love, and it was real.