We’ve all heard it before: Being positive is good for us. It reduces stress. It improves health. It makes us happier. Not only does a positive attitude improve our own lives, it has an uplifting effect on those around us.
Nonetheless, many of us don’t focus on the positives enough. Think about it. When was the last time you were called into your boss’s office for a high five? When was the last time you took a second to celebrate your life, even something small?
It wasn’t until I went to a triathlon this past weekend that I experienced the impact that positivity can have on our psyche.
To me, doing a triathlon — or any sort of race — is worse than going to the dentist. But since my boyfriend had entered, I figured the least I could do was show up and support him.
I stood at the finish line while everyone cheered, and I noticed a woman next to me. She stood out from the rest of the crowd, cheering loudly while the rest of us clapped politely as each participant completed their last few steps. Her cheers were so loud that I assumed someone very special to her was competing in the event.
After listening to her scream to the runners, “You can do it! Finish strong! Let’s GO! You’re almost there,” I finally had to ask, “Who are you rooting for?”
“Everyone,” she told me.
Thinking that she must have misunderstood my question, I pressed further.
“That’s really great!” I said to her, “I should join you. I bet it’s fun to cheer for people.”
“But, really, who do you know that’s competing?” I asked smiling.
Her response gave me chills.
I felt this wind of inspiration fly over me, completely moved that this woman would show up at a triathlon and cheer her heart out for an entire event full of strangers.
Imagine how much happier we would feel if we made a conscious effort to celebrate something everyday? If we cheered our coworkers on right before they lead the weekly meeting. Or high fived our barista for nailing the perfect temperature on our morning latte.
As the race continued, my new friend and I started looking for people who seemed like they needed some extra juice to cross the finish line.
“Look at him, over there — you see? He needs a good cheer. Let’s do it on three. 1, 2, 3… ‘BRING IT HOME! YOU CAN DO IT!'”
With every cheer, I saw more fire ignite in the eyes of the athletes. It was starkly obvious that we were making a difference in their experience. They went from tired to fierce. Looking into the faces of strangers as they reached inside themselves and found more commitment to cross the finish line was so moving, so powerful. Experiencing this alongside the stranger who had inspired me to join her in doing so was life-changing.
I cheered until I felt tears rolling down my face.
I cheered until my voice ran out.
It felt so good to be able to help people by doing something as simple as cheering them on.
Happiness is infectious. If you’re looking to feel happier, just celebrate someone.
Celebrate someone at work. Celebrate someone in your family. Celebrate a good friend. Don’t wait until their next birthday, their next milestone, their next big win.
Celebrate the small things that the people you surround yourself with do that enhance your daily life experience. You’ll be better for it.
I know I am.
This article first appeared in Forbes.