Pamela Gail circa 2000 – book signing at the Bookstop
I’m easily amused so you could say I’m happy most of the time. I’m not a Pollyanna — like most people, I get a little annoyed dealing with chronically cranky people, when my To Do List overwhelms me or it’s just too hot outside. However, I get through most days with more smiles than not.
But, enough about me, you’re probably wondering, “How did the Society of Happy People get started?” Sometime in 1997, it occurred to me that some people not only didn’t care whether or not I was happy — they actually seemed annoyed by it.
I also noticed that lots of other happy people, like me, tended to keep a lot of our happiness to ourselves. Naturally, I started to wonder where all of the happy people were.
The Society’s original membership lapel pin and buttons 🙂
Then my imagination kicked in and I saw happy people standing around in a room chit-chatting about all things happy. Then I saw their banner: The Secret Society of Happy People. Did I mention they were wearing Mardi Gras masks? That was so their identities remained a secret in case a Parade-Rainer crashed the party.
Originally, I thought this would be a great idea for an essay. But, with the encouragement of a few happy friends, even a few strangers, and a little blind optimism, I started the Secret Society of Happy People in August of 1998.
Originally I thought this would be a great idea for an essay. But, with the encouragement of a few happy friends and some blind optimism, I started the Secret Society of Happy People in August of 1998.
That November, Ann Landers publicly acknowledged the “keep your happy news to yourself” cultural norm by advising her readers to ditch writing and sending annual holiday letters chronicling your family’s fates and fortunes.
My motto was, “If you’re happy and you know it, what’s wrong with writing at least one letter a year if it makes you smile.” So, of course, I had to do something.
I wrote Miss Landers a letter that was ignored by her that year, but embraced by the press … and voila, the Secret Society of Happy People became known internationally. And making me even happier, the following year, in part because of the reader response she got, Ann agreed with me that it was OK to share your happy news in holiday newsletters.
After 20 plus years, we’re not really a secret anymore. I’m still in awe when I think about our happy shout outs. We’re even in Wikipedia and have been on TV and in People Magazine to name a couple of places.
Our original name, Secret Society of Happy People, referred to people keeping their happy news to themselves—or keeping it a secret from others because they didn’t want people raining on their parades. While this can still be true depending on who you hang out with, after twenty years of making the world a happier place we’re now the Society of Happy People.
The Society believes sharing your happiness with other happy people makes two people smile more. We also identified 31 Types of Happiness to help you find more happiness and were the first group to create three happy holiday celebrations so we could inspire more people to celebrate happiness. Our members even have a private FB group to share their happiness with each other.
Thank You to the Not-So-Secretly Happy People Who’ve Made the Society Possible since 1998
Founder: Pamela Gail Johnson
Current Happy Team: Rose Mis, Bob Wieland, Juan Olandez
Past Happy Helpers: Lars Hedbor, Keren Lynn, Bryce Berkowski, Gary Schwartz, Brian Hammer, Andre Freimann, Amy Fisher, & Rose Yates