The 10 Essential Hugs of Life

The 10 Essential Hugs of Life

by Roy Spence
The 10 Essential Hugs of Life

The 10 Essential Hugs of Life

by Roy Spence


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Roy Spence was raised in a family of huggers. When his dad—Big Roy, the biggest hugger of them all—passed away at the age of ninety-five, Roy Jr. started the healing process and discovered a more profound purpose behind the power of hugs.
Roy inherited his dad’s way of greeting both friends and strangers alike with a hug. In his journey from small-town Texas boy to CEO of a nationally acclaimed advertising agency, he hugged heads of state and CEOs, waitresses and receptionists, the famous and the salt of the earth. And he used hugs to mend fences, to get over it and get on with it, and to spread a little good in the world.
In the 10 Essential Hugs of Life, Roy shares the inspiring lessons he has learned from practicing what his dad taught him—anyone worth meeting is worth hugging—with the hope that others will take up the call to put a little more joy in the lives of those we touch, including our own. We simply need to hug ourselves first, hug our faith and our flags, our friends and family, our fears and failures, our firsts, our futures, and our finals. When we embrace all of the people and events that make us who we are, we discover deep wells of love.
With warm Texas charm and stirring artwork, The 10 Essential Hugs of Life reveals a path to healing, to goodness, to a future full of love and hope.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626340268
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Roy Spence grew up in Brownwood, Texas, and today is chairman and cofounder of GSD&M. The agency has helped grow some of the world’s most successful brands and has made a difference in communities around the country and the world. Roy is author or coauthor of The Amazing Faith of Texas, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What you Stand For, and Don’t Mess With Texas. He is also founder and CEO of the Purpose Institute, helping companies discover their purpose. He is the proud father of three kids, and lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Mary.

Jared Dunten is an artist and writer who lives in Austin, Texas. In 2000, Jared broke his neck when he dove into the Rio Grande River, becoming paralyzed from the neck down. He did not let his paralysis stop him from building the life he always wanted. He married the love of his life, has had two beautiful boys, learned to paint with his mouth, and continues to write for GSD&M.

Read an Excerpt

Table of ContentsThe Story of HugsThe Purpose of Hugs

The Ways to Hug

The 10 Essential Hugs of LifeHug #1: First, Hug Yourself
Hug #2: Hug Your Faith
Hug #3: Hug Your Family
Hug #4: Hug Your Friends
Hug #5: Hug Your Flag
Hug #6: Hug Your Failures
Hug #7: Hug Your Fears
Hug #8: Hug Your Future
Hug #9: Hug Your Firsts
Hug #10: Hug Your FinalsAbout the Author and Illustrator

 The Story of Hugs
Hugs lift people up, heal hurts, and spread love.

“Every day you should reach out and touch someone.
People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.”
—Maya Angelou
Genuine hugs give people freedom to be audaciously caring. They are an act of pure human love, and they give people new ways to build bridges, heal hurts, and put a little more joy in the lives of those we touch. No one should go hugless. Hugs are free. And best of all: when you hug, you get hugged back.

I come from a family of huggers. Especially my dad, Roy Milam Spence, Sr., or “Big R,” as many people called him. He was born in the culturally rich, economically poor border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, in 1913.  His mother passed away when he was young. Like all pre-Depression kids, he and his sister and two brothers pretty much lived hand to mouth. His daddy, Roy Moore Spence, did all he could, but those were the times. His values of family, hard work, love of our nation, and cherishing the good in the world were forged in an age defined by challenge and loss, but also by the power of community. He was tested under fire as a teenager, and the fire lost. He grew up in the epicenter of the Great Depression, but he was never depressed. He had to drop out of school when he was young to support his family, but he never dropped out of life.

Dad married my mom, Ruth Spence—the best mom and the best schoolteacher in the world—in 1941. He then joined the Navy during World War II, and my mom moved to Brownwood, Texas, to live with my grandmother and granddad. That is where she and my dad settled when he returned from the war. Along with my most excellent sisters, Susan and Mary Gordon, I was lucky to have an awesome childhood in that little town, a childhood full of friends, love, security, encouragement, and yes, hugs.

Dad had many great and frankly remarkable adventures during his extraordinary ninety-five years, but some of the fondest memories I have of him are from my childhood, walking hand-in-hand with him in Piedras Negras, a Mexican border town just across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in Piedras Negras—in the marketplaces, bars, and little cafés—knew him. And he knew them, too.

Big R was a straight-up, six-foot-five, strikingly handsome man. But when he met somebody on the street, he would bend right over and hug them. He hugged them all: men, women, children. And they would hug him right back, especially the women and especially the older ones. He would say in Spanish, “Meet my son, Royito,” and the hugging would start all over again with me. Especially the women and especially the older ones.

By the time I was old enough to walk, I was old enough to hug. And hug I did.

He taught me early on to say hello to everyone. To wave to everyone. To tell people you love them and mean it. To give flowers, or fresh-shelled pecans, or pears, or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. To share everything you have with others. He was a man who never met a stranger, and because of him, I never have either. His lesson was one of compassion: Be kind to everyone you meet, because everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

Be kind to everyone you meet, because everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

But the thing Big R taught me that I cherish the most is that as a man, it is cool to hug everyone. As a dad, he never, ever hesitated to give me a public hug. And while I may have been a tad embarrassed by it a few times in my life, when I was a kid, that was just the way it was.

I have applied his lessons—especially to hug—the best way I know how in my life of family, friends, faith, and work. I hug Mary, my wife of more than thirty-five years; my kids, Courtney, Ashley, and Shay; friends; and other family members to excess. I also hug my business partners and employees. And I hug CEOs, presidents of the United States, receptionists, football players and coaches, secretaries of state, and four-star generals. I even tried to hug the Queen of England once in the Texas Governor’s mansion when Ann Richards was governor. That did not go well. But it didn’t stop me from hugging senators, governors, and folks on the street, musicians, employees, and taxi drivers. It’s just the way I was brought up. Anyone worth meeting is worth hugging.

One night, I had a vision that spurred me to a new understanding of the power of the hug.

It was four weeks after my dad passed away. I was in Frankfurt, Germany, with two colleagues, David and Jay, on an important business trip. We took the overnighter from the States and got to Frankfurt early on a Sunday morning. I couldn’t sleep on the plane. It happens. But to avoid horrible jet lag, we had to make ourselves stay up until at least seven o’clock that night by walking and talking, seeing the sights, walking and talking, sharing a meal or two, walking and talking. Finally, we were beat; our eyes were so heavy from lack of sleep that we stumbled back to the hotel and quickly bid each other goodnight.

I called Mary and then hit the sack, ready to get hours of sleep, which is rare for me. As I shut my eyes, all alone in a strange hotel bed, it hit me. Since the memorial service for my dad, I had buried myself in family and work. Now here I was, sleep deprived, far away from home and family. It began to rain and rain hard outside. Trains were running right outside my window with their hollow rhythm. I was thunderstruck, and I began to shake—not from fear, but from the brutal truth. It was vividly clear: I was a sixty-year-old kid with no parents. I am all alone, I thought.

I had never needed a hug more in my entire life.

And so it came. Gently at first, I felt a hug deep in my heart. My dad and mom were hugging me. I was certain of it. I wasn’t seeing them, but I was feeling them. It was not a memory: I could feel them, just as I had felt Mary hug me before I left for the airport. It lasted for a marvelous while, soothing my mind and giving massive comfort to my body and soul. But then a very strange thing happened. As the hugs started to slip away, my eyes popped open, and I was wide awake and energized. I looked at the clock and was astounded—it was only 8:00 p.m. I felt like I had slept through the night.

That’s when the vision for this book came to me. Nobody had physically touched me, but I had been healed nonetheless. I’ve gotta start writing about the power of hugs, I thought. So I wrote the title of a little book of hugs—The 10 Essential Hugs of Life.

As the rain, trains, and clock measured the span of the night, I begin to imagine the story of the ten hugs. As morning came and I was still wide awake, now going on forty hours with a sixteen-hour day ahead of me, I walked down to the business center and typed out the titles of the book chapters. By the time I was done, it was time to meet David and Jay. I immediately told them about the book. Both of them yawned and patted me on the back, and David responded with these words of inspired encouragement: “We’re late to our meeting.” At that precise moment, I knew I had an idea worth pursuing, even if they didn’t at the time.

I believed in the power of the book because I believe in the power of a hug. I believe that each of us can lift people up, heal some hurts, and spread a little love. I carry many things in my messy wallet (got that habit from my dad, too), but among them I always keep several quotes taped to the inside pockets. One of my favorites is from The Shack by William Paul Young:

If anything matters everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.

Doing little things to touch a heart or a life changes the world forever. Healing ourselves and others heals the world. Shining a light on goodness spreads good in the world. Sharing love with another breeds love around the world. Writing this book was emotional and powerful for me, but I did not write it for me. I wrote it for you. I wrote it because I hope to change your life for the better, even if only a bit.

Table of Contents

The Story of Hugs 1

The Purpose of Hugs 11

The Ways to Hug 19

The 10 Essential Hugs of Life 37

Hug #1 Hug Yourself First 39

Hug #2 Hug Your Faith 49

Hug #3 Hug Your Family 59

Hug #4 Hug Your Friends 71

Hug #5 Hug Your Flag 81

Hug #6 Hug Your Failures 89

Hug #7 Hug Your Fears 99

Hug #8 Hug Your Future 109

Hug #9 Hug Your Firsts 119

Hug # 10 Hug Your Finals 127

Hug On 135

Acknowledgments 137

About the Author 139

About the Illustrator 141


Austin, TX

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