OK, guys. This is the first of many challenges I will issue to you on this blog. Some will be short and sweet, others long and hard (that’s what she said). Here are some ground rules. First, I will only issue a challenge if I think that completing it will make you happier. Second, I will never challenge you to do something illegal (so don’t interpret it that way). That’s pretty much it. Without further ado, here is the first challenge: today I challenge you to high-five a complete stranger.
It’s no secret that human beings are social animals. As such, friendly physical contact with other human beings is good for our psyche. Don’t believe me? Read this article on the influence of touch on child development. Or this article about how players on winning sports teams touch more than their losing counterparts. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The long and short of it is that we perform better, feel better, develop better, when we are in regular contact with other human beings.
So I started thinking about what sorts of friendly contact are socially acceptable on a large scale. There are several that come to mind. Hugs, handshakes, pats on the back. In some circumstances kisses and massages are good. But none of these carries the weight, camaraderie, and complete badassity of the high-five. Plus, you can high-five a stranger, but I wouldn’t recommend asking a stranger if you can give them a massage.
You may be wondering, “Why does it have to be a stranger? Can’t I just high-five my friends at work?” Well, that would be better than nothing, but not nearly as good. The thing is, high-fiving a stranger is mildly uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing. It’s good because we all need a little help pushing our boundaries sometimes, and getting out of your comfort zone is good for breaking routine, overcoming fear, and generally just convincing yourself that you can DO things.
Just as a show of faith, I completed this challenge myself today. Here’s how it went. I was thinking about posting this challenge. After a little more mulling it over I thought, “Would I high-five a stranger? Sure I would! Who doesn’t like high-fives?” So to convince myself I would do it, I decided to do it immediately. I sized up the person walking toward me on the sidewalk, jazzed myself up, and then totally wimped out. I know. They walked right by me, and I did nothing. But let me just tell you that there’s a huge difference between THINKING you would do something, and actually DOING it. I was a little ashamed. I felt like if I didn’t do it, then I couldn’t ask you to do it. So I strengthened my resolve… and wussed out again when the next person passed me by. Dang it.
The thing is, we all have a deep-seated fear of rejection. What if the stranger won’t high-five me? What if they think I’m a weirdo? But if you think about this for about 2 seconds you realize, “Who cares what this random stranger on the street thinks of me. I’m never going to see them again. And wouldn’t I rather be a person who gives high-fives to strangers? I would high-five a stranger if they held their hand up for me, so why shouldn’t they do the same?”
After this epiphany, I decided to really do it this time. I waited until me and my new mark were about 6-10 feet apart, held up my hand, and said, “High-Five!” The guy kind of smirked, but he held up his hand, and I high-fived the shit out of it! (But not so hard it would hurt, I didn’t want to punish him). I just want you all to know that I felt great afterward. I overcame that fear of rejection and got me a high-five from a stranger. Plus, I would bet that his day was a little better too. Wouldn’t yours be if a random stranger asked you for a high-five?
The best part of this is that you get to test your boundaries, and get a little uncomfortable, but there is absolutely zero real danger involved. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t give you a high-five? Screw them. Just try the next, much cooler, person who comes along.
Plus, I haven’t done any studies, but I’m pretty sure 9 out of 10 strangers will give you a high-five. Boom. You’ve got a 90% chance of getting some strange high-five today. So get out there and throw ’em up.
Did you complete the challenge? How did it go?