Fiving it Up

I recently had a discussion on the topic of karma. As one peer put it, “Karma is not what most people think. It’s not a supernatural force. It simply means that when you do an action, you put the idea into the world and make its repetition more likely.” He gave the example of people waiting in a line. If you cut the line, the idea is now in the world, and more people may cut the line, ultimately resulting in someone cutting you in line one day.

I’d never given Karma much thought, but I suppose I was one who assumed it meant good vibes or bad vibes, and bad things happen to bad people. The idea that every action we each perform causes these “vibes” in the world is a new concept to me, but one that directly relates to our blog post this week (and the topic of tragedy of the commons we discussed this past week).

So what is one 60-second action I think everyone could take each day, that would introduce positive actions, and positive Karma, into the world?

The high-five.

According to urban dictionary, the high five is a “symbol of celebration when something good is said/done. The causes for the call of “HIGH FIVE” can vary from anything as small as finding something cool on the floor to something as big as saving the world from almost certain destruction”.

Psychological research shows that there are five things that can increase happiness, two of which are being optimistic and committing acts of kindness. In a high five, the initiator smiles and holds his hand up, showing his optimism and sense of accomplishment. Then, the recipient has to help the initiator by putting their own hand up, completing the high five. The recipient feels they are helping the initiator, or performing an act of kindness. As a result, both parties of a high five increase their happiness. Additional studies have proven that positive psychology, or repetition of more positive actions, creates lasting happiness.

Humans also subconsciously tend to copy the facial expressions of others. When we form a facial expression, such as smiling, feedback from the movements tells our brain “I must be happy”. By imitating another person’s expressions, you get this same feedback, which provides a window into the person’s feelings. Imitation also usually has the effect of increasing liking. Psychology studies have proven that a subject will rate another as more likable if that person has deliberately imitated the subjects’ movements (Chartrand & Bargh, 1999).

If we all high-fived strangers for a minute each day, we would increase empathy in society and find each other more likable. Thus, the world would be a more understanding and compassionate place, ultimately leading to more agreement and peace.

Even Kid President recommends high fives (#8). So, let’s all high five each other and make the world awesome.

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5 thoughts on “Fiving it Up”

  1. I love high fives! I instinctively go for a high five after any kind of success and can almost think of it as a reward. I can’t decide if high fiving strangers for a minute each day would lessen the “reward” aspect of the high five. Maybe if everyone in a class had to high five each other before or after a test or paper?


  2. High fives can be a great way to celebrate yourself and others after an accomplishment. Building off of Mary’s comment, not only do I wonder if high fiving strangers every day would lessen its reward, but I also wonder has some strangers could react. If one stranger reacts negatively, that could affect the high five initiator to not want to high five strangers anymore. Are high fives enough to stimulate a ripple effect of happiness amongst strangers or is it simply enough to high five our friends and peers hoping that others will do the same?


  3. High fives is so simple, but something that can make someone smile mood change. I do understand Mary’s point of high fiving strangers everyday would lessen its reward and I think there can be some truth to it because if more individuals started to participate in it then it would just turn into a norm and the notion of reward isn’t as apparent. I think spontaneous high fives creates more value in the long-run.

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  4. Your definition of karma is much more practical than the widespread belief that it is a supernatural force (which I held before reading this blog). I do believe it is important to act in positive ways that you believe in and not just talk about them, because actions really do speak much louder than words.


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