Your high-five can change the world

Don’t underestimate your social impact.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there’s so much happening around the world. Communities in remote parts of the globe are (literally) dying for help; we kill marine life and our own planet every time we grab our $3 cup of coffee on our way to work because it’s “convenient”; and drug abuse continues to devastate families across continents.

I feel overpowered.

I care deeply about a variety of causes, yet there’s only so much a person can do on his or her own. I’ve recently tasked myself with a daunting challenge of understanding everything there was to know about the use of plastic following a Netflix documentary binge and I feel defeated even though I’ve only barely begun to scratch the surface.

But while we may be inclined to devote a large portion of our attention to worldwide undertakings, there’s also quite a lot to be done on a much smaller scale. And this is where I argue we can have a massive impact. The Free Hugs Campaign provides a beautiful precedent of how little our efforts need to be in order to change someone’s life — because, yes, something as benign as a hug can have unexpectedly life-changing effects on others.

For those worried about their personal space being invaded, however, I suggest an even easier alternative: the high-five. 👏

You can spend minutes and hours reading through dozens of studies on the psychological benefits of high-fives researched by experts from around the world, but what I personally believe this human gesture comes down to is the simplest finding of all…

You’re telling someone they matter.

Recently, a colleague of mine shared a piece of information very few people inside our office knew about. A young staffer who hasn’t even been in the company for more than a year had just heavily contributed to our landing a big project somewhere in Asia, yet news of her accomplishment had not been made public even though there was nothing to prevent it from being out there. Five minutes later I walked up to her and high-fived her for it.

What are the odds of this particular high-five having a drastic impact on her personal and/or professional life? Who knows… But that’s what we all need to keep in mind when reaching out to someone: despite not knowing what impact we may have, the chances of our making a positive difference in their life outweigh those of making it worse.

We high-five kids for doing a good job. We high-five teammates at the end of a game — win or lose. We high-five our colleagues for closing a deal. We high-five our friends for making a funny joke. You may think little of that high-five, but the person on the receiving end, well… Who knows what they think?

I’d be willing to bet that deep down, inside, part of them whispered:

“I matter.”

In a society where convenience trumps all, I personally can’t think of anything simpler with limitless implications for those around us. So, with that in mind: who do you high-five?

I high-five _______ for _______

Constantly experimenting with life.

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