Mel Robbins’s The High 5 Habit: Book Overview

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The High 5 Habit" by Mel Robbins. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is The High 5 Habit by Mel Robbins about? Are you ready to transform your life with a simple yet powerful habit?

In The High 5 Habit, Mel Robbins offers a life-changing habit that will get rid of any negative self-talk. By just giving yourself a high five, you’ll feel a boost of confidence that you can’t get anywhere else.

Read below for a brief overview of The High 5 Habit.

The High 5 Habit by Mel Robbins

Are you ready to transform your life with a simple yet powerful habit? Imagine a practice that can boost your confidence, amplify your positivity, and propel you toward your goals. The High 5 Habit is a game-changing technique that can transform your relationship with yourself. In Mel Robbins’s The High 5 Habit, she explains that when it comes to positive self-talk, we’re often our own worst enemy. She argues that starting every day by giving yourself a high five in the mirror can help you silence self-doubt and adopt an attitude of confidence and self-love that will allow you to achieve your dreams.  

Robbins is a best-selling author, podcast host, and popular motivational speaker. She gained widespread recognition through her TEDx talk, “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,” which has been viewed over 31 million times. Robbins has authored several books on personal development, including Stop Saying You’re Fine, The 5 Second Rule, and Take Control of Your Life. In addition to her books and speaking engagements, Robbins also previously hosted The Mel Robbins Show, where she shared inspiring stories and insights to empower individuals to transform their lives.

What Is the High 5 Habit?

The High 5 Habit is a daily attitude of self-love that boosts your confidence, happiness, and ability to achieve your goals. Robbins explains that while many of us enthusiastically cheer on our partners, children, and colleagues, we often fail to be cheerleaders for ourselves. Instead, we hold onto self-limiting beliefs that prevent us from achieving our dreams. She argues that you can change your mindset by starting your day with a high five instead of with self-criticism and doubt. A high five, she insists, is the best way to communicate to yourself that you’re worthy, loved, and capable of achieving your biggest dreams.

Why Does the High 5 Habit Work?

Robbins explains that thanks to a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), what you pay attention to determines your reality. According to Robins, the RAS acts like a filter for the brain, deciding which information gets into your conscious awareness and which gets ignored. It works to prioritize what you find relevant or meaningful. Therefore, if you think negative things about yourself, you’re telling your brain that this information is important, and the RAS will prioritize the information that reinforces that belief.

According to Robbins, your RAS is designed to work for you. If you go through your day focused on all the ways you’re not good enough, you’re likely to find evidence that supports this belief, reinforcing your negative self-image. But the opposite is also true. Robbins suggests that by consciously directing your attention and focus toward your own strengths and opportunities, you can change the kind of information that gets filtered through to your conscious brain. This is where a daily high five comes in. By starting your day with a high five, you’re taking the first step to retrain your brain to focus on your limitless potential rather than your perceived failings.

How Do You Build a High 5 Habit?

Robbins says a High 5 Habit begins with three simple steps. 

  1. When you first wake up, go to your bathroom and look in the mirror. Observe your reflection and think about what you love about who you are as a person.
  2. Give your reflection a high five. 
  3. Repeat every day.

This daily habit of giving yourself a high five helps remind you, before you’ve done anything else, to shift your focus from the negative to the positive. But the high five alone isn’t enough. You also need to interrupt negative thoughts as they occur and reframe underlying unproductive emotions that lead to those negative thoughts.

Address Negative Thoughts

Starting your day with a high five is intended to remind you that you’re worthy and capable. But, throughout the day, you’re still bound to have moments of self-doubt or negative self-talk. Building a High 5 Habit means not just giving yourself a high five every morning but also cultivating a positive attitude—an inner voice that always celebrates and affirms you. A positive attitude requires you to confront the negative thoughts that tear you down rather than lift you up.

Robbins offers a three-step process to help you transform negative thoughts as they arise.

Step 1: Interrupt the negative thought as it occurs. Robbins recommends simply redirecting your focus anytime you notice a negative thought about yourself come up.

Step 2: Replace the negative thought with a meaningful affirmation, for example, “I’m capable of building the life I want.” She emphasizes that affirmations only work if you truly believe what you’re saying, so try out a few to find some that work for you. Once you find an affirmation that rings true, she recommends writing it down somewhere where you’ll see it often, maybe on your bathroom mirror where you’ll see it every time you give yourself a high five.

Step 3: Finally, take an action step that proves your affirmation to be true. For example, if your affirmation is “I learn something new every day” then you could end your day by sharing something you learned with a friend or family member.

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Robbins argues that shifting your focus from negative to positive self-talk and starting with a daily high five will help you realize your dreams. Capitalizing on the power of your brain’s RAS, you can align your thoughts and actions with your goals. She argues that when you visualize your dreams and consistently focus on them, your RAS increases your awareness of opportunities and resources that will help you get there.

Mel Robbins’s The High 5 Habit: Book Overview

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Here's what you'll find in our full The High 5 Habit summary:

  • Why you should start each day by giving your reflection a high five
  • How to silence self-doubt and adopt an attitude of confidence and self-love
  • The psychology behind why high fives make you feel good

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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