January 17, 2014

Cheerupism: the Art of Making Others Feel Good. ~ Jack Raifer

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk writing when I get a message from a good friend asking me to join her and an acquaintance of ours who was in need of a cheerupism session.

I found the term endearing and inspiring. Cheering, after all, means to motivate or simply to make someone feel better.

This leads me to the present article about the art of making others feel better, motivating them, pushing them to achieve their dreams and goals and cheering them up when things fall a bit short of our expectations.

Of course, it sounds easy. It is something we all believe ourselves able to do all the time, no matter what is happening in our lives. However, cheerupism is an art that has to do with how we feel and manage our emotions at any given time and our true desire to be of service to others.

I am not writing about a sacrificial position where we are supposed to do everything for others while neglecting ourselves. On the contrary, we must take advantage of the fact that, according to many studies about happiness and the brain, helping others creates an amazing sensation of happiness in ourselves. So doing unto others is actually doing unto us.

To get others to feel better—in other words, moving into the practice of cheerupism—we must focus initially on something that seems counter-intuitive: ourselves.

How are we doing? How do we feel? Are we motivated and happy? Are we in some way holding a grudge or resentful towards that same person we are trying to cheer up?

When our energy level is low and we are stressed, tired, frustrated or angry for any reason, the truth is that even with the best intentions we are probably going to make other people feel worse. As the other person starts crashing down on their emotions, we drop a few notches with them.

Think about the last time you tried to help someone. Did you feel easily frustrated? Was there a sense that you had to scold them to make them come to their senses? Did you try to “fix” their issue although it had nothing to do with you—or tell them what they should do? Or, did you actually listen, give them your full attention and simply try to give all the understanding and support they needed?

Making other feels good has nothing to do with problem solving or facing other people’s problems ourselves. It is all about listening, being there mindfully and attentively and helping them understand that they will never be alone, no matter what happens. There will always be someone willing to lend a hand, a shoulder and an ear.

That is cheerupism, the amazing art and power of being there for someone else 100 percent, for a hug, a cry, a joke, a smile or simply to be present beside someone. To dedicate our whole selves, even if just for a few minutes, to that person sitting in front of us.

The most interesting thing about cheerupism is the multiplying effect it has. Once we make someone feel better, they help us feel better, and as our good feeling rises, so does our happiness and, hence, our desire to help others. It is a positive cycle that feeds us at the same time we feed it.

Let’s make time to feel better, and once we are there, it is a great moment to practice cheerupism with our friends, family, colleagues and even a stranger once in a while.

Special thanks to my great friend Nora Rodriguez for her genius in inventing such a wonderful term and concept as cheerupism and for allowing me to write about it. Thanks, Norita.


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Assistant Editor: Michelle Margaret

Photo:  Shawna Turner

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