Q&A With Mel Robbins: The High 5 Habit

Q&A With Mel Robbins: The High 5 Habit

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Author Bio:

"Mel Robbins is one of the leading voices in personal development and transformation and an international bestselling author. Her work includes the global phenomenon The 5 Second Rule, the upcoming The High 5 Habit, four #1 bestselling audiobooks, the #1 podcast on Audible, as well as signature online courses that have changed the lives of more than half a million students worldwide. 

Her groundbreaking work on behavior change has been translated into 36 languages and is used by healthcare professionals, veterans’ organizations, and the world’s leading brands to inspire people to be more confident, effective, and fulfilled.

As one of the most widely booked and followed public speakers in the world, Mel coaches more than 60 million people online every month and videos featuring her work have more than a billion views online, including her TEDx talk, which is one of the most popular of all time.

There’s nothing Mel loves more than making a real difference in people’s lives by teaching them to believe in themselves and inspiring them to take the actions that will change their lives. Mel lives in New England with her husband of 25 years and their three kids, but she is and will always be a Midwesterner at heart."


1.  Before we begin, does the number "5" have any significance to you? If so, what is it? Just curious because your first bestselling book, The 5 Second Rule, also has the number in its title?

Before discovering The 5 Second Rule, the number didn't have any significance. It was inspired by watching a NASA rocket launch, hence the 5-4-3-2-1 countdown.

I never set out to write another book with "5" in the title. In fact, The High 5 Habit had about 20 different titles over the past four years that I've been writing it (which didn't have a 5 in them!). But after I discovered The High 5 Habit, I knew it also needed to be the title of the book. It was a wonderful coincidence.


2.  Both your new book, The High 5 Habit, and your last book, The Five Second Rule, have simple daily tips that ultimately impact the whole of your life. Have you always been the type of thinker that can expand the micro into the macro, and if so, how have you trained your awareness to do this? 

One of the biggest misconceptions in personal development is that big problems require complicated solutions.

It's actually the opposite. The fact is, you're one decision away from a totally different life. And tools only work when you force yourself to use them. If they are simple, you'll remember them, and you'll actually use them.

I started thinking this way because I kept struggling to do the things I needed to do. I realized, why not try to make things easier and start with small steps? And it turned out that starting small, instead of trying to make big changes, is the answer.

Instead of getting bogged down or focused on the big picture, just take the smallest move forward, no matter how simple it seems, because that step gets you moving.


3.  Why do you think so few people forget to encourage or High 5 themselves throughout life?

It's simple: you were never taught how to.

And most likely, you were taught the opposite –– to bash yourself. Both because as a kid, you saw other people, especially the adults in your life doing it. And, because of the messages in our culture, in which you're constantly bombarded with all of the reasons you're not enough. In fact, 91% of women say they don't love the way they look. It's time to change that.


4.  What was your life like before you began The High 5 Habit?

The 5 Second Rule got me moving from completely stuck. The tool –– and the book –– completely turned my life around. I was $800,000 in debt, unemployed, and on the brink of divorce, and the Rule changed everything. In less than ten years, I became the most-booked female speaker in the world, host the #1 podcast on Audible, and my marriage is better than it's ever been.

But honestly, when I took a closer look, despite being a successful and positive person, I didn't feel connected to myself and grounded in a vision for my life— that's always eluded me, and I never knew why. I was always moving, always creating, very productive… but truly satisfied with myself? 

That didn't come until I started practicing The High 5 Habit. And I want you to use it, too.

This is going to sound like the cheesiest thing you've ever heard but trust me, the research on this simple habit is mind-blowing.

During a time when I was feeling overwhelmed and defeated by life (hello, pandemic!), I did something corny, surprising — and powerfully transformational. 

I call it The High 5 Habit: Every morning, I mindfully stand in front of my bathroom mirror to see (I mean, really SEE) the woman staring back. I think about what she needs (More fun? Some kindness? Some quiet?) and make an intention about how I'm going to show up for her today. Then, I raise my hand and high five my reflection.

I know it sounds stupid, but before you roll your eyes and stop reading, let me tell you: I'm a former lawyer. I'm skeptical and cynical about quick fixes. I'd never share anything with you unless the research proves it really works.

And high fiving your reflection really works.

I saw a profound shift in my happiness, mood, and energy from doing this High 5 Habit — and it wasn't just me. I posted a photo of myself doing it online, with no explanation, and soon, thousands of people were writing to me, sharing that they were also high fiving themselves and seeing massive changes in their attitude and confidence.

Why is something so contrived, and so simple, so damn powerful and contagious? I started digging for answers. 

A year-long research project unearthed heaps of information on the motivational power of a high five. I interviewed the people who were high fiving and spoke to some of the world's leading experts in behavior change and neuroscience. I dove into studies, research, and literature on motivation, happiness, self-esteem, and leadership. 

There is so much deep, compelling science behind this habit, and I dive into that –– along with a dozen other habits you can use to create a High 5 Life –– in my new book, The High 5 Habit.


5.  You talk about how 20 gallons of hot water is your secret weapon to manage stress. Can you explain/elaborate how so? 

A little known fact about me: Around 3:00 PM, you will often find me taking a bath, and the reason –– it may surprise you. 

It's not because I have the day off. In fact, I definitely do this in the middle of a workday when I'm working from home. And it's not because I'm dirty!

I take a bath around three o'clock when I'm stressed out, when the calls are stacked on top of each other and when the deadlines are piling up. 

When I feel myself spiraling, when my nervous system starts to ratchet up, I take a bath because it is a powerful way to put your body in a state of instant calm. It's a way to activate something that is truly a treasure in your body –– your vagus nerve. This nerve is your on/off switch to a calm, more grounded physical state.

To activate this nerve to find instant calm, you can also breathe deeply and slowly, hum, chant, or rest your hands on your heart.


6.  How do you, if at all, combine the 5-Second Rule and the High 5 Habit in your morning/daily routine?

When the alarm goes off in the morning, use The 5 Second Rule, and immediately count 5-4-3-2-1, and then get up RIGHT AWAY. Do not sit in bed! There is so much science behind why this impacts your day, but two quick reasons: 

  1. You keep a promise you made to yourself when you set the alarm, and you prove to yourself that you can count on yourself.
  2. Your brain actually sleeps in cycles of 90-110 minutes, so when you hit snooze, you enter another sleep cycle, and will thus be foggier for the rest of the morning!

After that, walk into the bathroom, and practice The High 5 Habit by high fiving yourself in the mirror. Boom! You're ready to take on the day.


7.  Overall, what do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope the book inspires you to feel more confident and in control of your life. I hope it helps you be kinder to yourself and celebrate the amazing person you already are, and gives you a glimpse of the fantastic person you're becoming. 


8.  What's the best book you have read so far this year?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

I thought this was breathtaking. I just realized that's probably a bad thing to say, but, no, really. When I first started reading this memoir about a surgeon who ends up being diagnosed and succumbing to lung cancer, I first hated the guy. Honestly, he was really arrogant, just unlikable, and the transformation that you see him go through spiritually and mentally as he confronts his own mortality is moving. And so is the fact that he doesn't complete the book. 

The last chapter is written by his wife, who survives him, which adds a level of poignancy and urgency to this incredibly important book about the meaning and brevity of your life.


9.  What's your best advice for getting over writer's block?

My friend Neil Pasricha, a speaker, author, and podcaster, once told me: 

"Twice a year, instead of standing on a stage and speaking, I'm sitting on a chair listening." 

If you're in a creative funk, you're focused on your output, and not focused enough on your input to inspire you.

What you need is to simply put yourself in more NEW situations. So when I have writer's block, I stop trying to create more output, and start adding more inputs, like getting into new environments, going for walks, and trying new things.


10.  What's the best advice you have ever received on happiness?

Happy people do things that make them happy.


11.  Do you plan on writing more books in the future?

YES! Absolutely. And I can't wait for you to read it. And hopefully it won't take me four years to write it, like this one did!



Places To Find More From This Author:

Instagram: @melrobbins

Facebook: Mel Robbins

Youtube: Mel Robbins

Twitter: @melrobbins

Website: www.melrobbins.com


The High 5 Habit Book

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