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:
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?