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Choosing Happiness

What I’ve Learned from Jerry Harris of CHEER

Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders

What we see from Jerry in a nutshell is that happiness is a choice. Jerry chooses happiness every day in spite of significant struggles, obstacles, and disappointments.

I have read a lot of positive psychology literature and studies on happiness. I have learned a lot from researchers and scientists who have spent years studying happiness. I try to incorporate the techniques they tell us to on a regular basis. Gratitude is a one of the most important elements to being happiness, these researchers say. So, I try to practice gratitude daily. I write what I am thankful for and focus on the positive things in my life when I am feeling down. This is my goal at least. I don’t always succeed.

However, simply watching CHEER and seeing how Jerry has chosen to live his life is such an easy way to see all the research and findings from positive psychology put into action. I wonder if Jerry has ever read books on happiness or where his decision to be happy comes from. I’d love to ask him one day, but I know he is busy being interviewed and appearing on TV shows daily, in addition to his already super busy life as a Navarro Cheerleader. So, I will have to wait. Maybe one day, we can hear from Jerry himself on where his decision to be so happy came from.

Jerry choosing to be happy is inspiring because we know that he has had a difficult life. Jerry’s mom recently passed away, and he seems to only have his cheer family for support. I’m 46 and my mom has been battling Leukemia for 3 years. We face her mortality daily, and I’m constantly on edge wondering if today is the day she takes a turn for the worse or if her next treatment will really work. After hearing a Doctor from MD Anderson say that he gives her a 1% chance of ever getting another remission once her treatment stopped working – 2 treatments ago – I think my fear is understandable. So, at 46 years old, I can’t imagine losing my mom, and some days I find myself consumed with worry about her health, so consumed that I find it difficult to function and be productive. Unlike Jerry, however, I am blessed with a wonderful family and a close-knit extended family. I have a great support system. I’m glad to see that Jerry too has an amazing support system through his cheer family, but I feel like I have some added comforts and protection that he doesn’t have. (Not to take away from his amazing cheer family. The families that banded together to care for Jerry and help him keep going with cheer are amazing and inspiring. I’d love to learn more about them too!)

Back to Jerry. He actually lost his mom, and even when she was alive, they struggled a lot financially. I’m sure there is so much more we don’t know about his background and the difficulties he has faced. Quite frankly, Jerry has some pretty big reasons to be sad and depressed, and I’m sure there are times that he is. I hope he honors those times and lets himself mourn and be sad for a while. I think it’s healthy to an extent. However, we all have to keep moving forward through our periods of sadness and struggle. Most of us do so ok. Often, we ask for a pass to be a bit of a jerk if we are having a bad day. We justify not being overly happy and friendly when we have a lot going on. We choose to be a bit selfish at times. I guess that is understandable and ok, but Jerry shows us that there is another way.

We see Jerry choose daily to be the happy person who cheers on all of his teammates no matter what. Jerry is positive and uplifting and encouraging even when he was not on the mat and really wanted to be. We know he was disappointed after he got a chance to go on the mat, and he hit his stunts perfectly. Then he found himself off the mat again, but Jerry didn’t complain. He kept working hard. He asked his coach what she needed him to work on, and then he put in the work. When his time came, and he had the opportunity to get on the mat, he did not disappoint. And before it was his turn on the mat, he stood on the side and cheered his teammates on with everything he had. Even when he didn’t feel like it. Even when he was sad and missing his mom, or disappointed that he wasn’t on the mat, or just plain having a bad day.

Jerry chooses to be the person who cheers everyone on. He is positive and affirming. He sees the good in everyone and points it out with encouragement and praise. We all need Jerrys in our lives, and we can all be more like Jerry by simply choosing to exude happiness and positivity. I’m going to try to channel my inner Jerry and choose to be more positive and affirming to the people I’m around. Choosing to spread happiness and joy can only help me and those around me feel better. We’ve seen it in action by watching Jerry, and we can’t help but love Jerry.

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