I recently attended a 12 day Silent Vipassana Meditation Retreat. It was by far the hardest endeavor I have ever attempted. For 10 of the 12 days, one is up at 4am, in bed by 9:30pm and meditating for 12 hours every.single.day.
At 9am on day 5, we finished one of our three daily “strong determination sits.” During these sits, one is instructed not to move a muscle. No opening of eyes. No shifting of hands. No shifting of legs. There was a gentleman next to me that I could feel was struggling with the longer sits. At the end of this sit, I felt inspired to give this man a fist bump. Keep in mind that eye contact, hand gestures (including fist bumps), and talking were not allowed on this retreat, but something inside of my yearned to connect. So I took the leap of faith, looked him in the eyes, and stuck out my fist. He stoically fist bumped me back while remaining emotionless in the face. The deed was done and I remained silent throughout the remainder of the retreat.
On the final day, they lifted the requirement of silence and allowed us to speak to one another. This gentleman came up to me and told me that on day 5, he was going to quit. He was planning to pack his bags, throw in the towel and head home. He told me the fist bump provided him with energy, motivation, and strength to continue his journey. I was awe-struck, completely speechless…
There is a science behind what went down on day 5. If somebody’s attitude is going down and one gives them a high five (or fist bump), it lifts them back up. High fives and fist bumps mean “I believe you. I love you. We got this. I celebrate you. I see you. You can face this. I know this is hard, but keep going. You got this.”
Mel Robbins, New York Times best selling author put it so eloquently, ”we’ve been raising our arms in celebration for centuries (think scoring a touchdown, crossing a finish line, passing the CPA, giving a hug). The raised hand physical movement is wired into our nervous system as a celebratory “Whoa!” And so it gives the recipient a jolt of energy. So in addition to the subconscious messaging, more importantly, it also provides a dopamine drip, which boosts confidence and mood immediately.”
The motivational power of a high five is not only documented, it is irrefutable. A high five validates our most profound fundamental needs. Every single human being on the planet has three emotional needs; one needs to be seen, to feel heard, and to feel accepted. When one receives a high five, especially during a challenging moment, these 3 needs are realized.
What’s more, high fiving ourselves in the mirror has the same effect! Many of us look outside of ourselves for emotional affirmation. We chase likes, we chase validations, we think if were with the right person, it means that we are loveable. The truth is we have to learn how to cultivate this love from within. So… create the habit! In the morning, right after brushing your teeth, stand there and be with yourself. Set an intention for how you are going to show up today, and seal that intention with a high five! In doing this, you are literally building in the habit of self-validation, self-support, self-respect, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-celebration. This is POWERFUL stuff!
If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to check out the link above for the full podcast on the science of high fives with Mel Robbins.
Enjoy what comes of today!