Not a Secret Anymore
I’d never have guessed that the moment twenty-two years ago when I was sitting on my bed in my apartment wondering, “Where are all of the happy people?” for a humor essay, would impact my life today.
I still clearly see that vision my imagination conjured up of a bunch of people walking around a room wearing Mardi Gras masks chit chatting about happiness. That’s when I envisioned the “Secret Society of Happy People” banner on the wall behind a podium.
I immediately knew they were a group of happy people meeting up to celebrate being happy — simply because they were mostly happy. They wore masks because they didn’t want any parade-rainers to crash their party.
The late ’90s was a time when self-help dominated TV shows, radio talk shows, best-selling books, infomercials, and seminars.
It was the era that made Oprah, Jerry Springer, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and a host of other household names famous.
Our culture was saturated with “figure out what’s wrong and fix me” everything. The obvious theory was: if you fix what’s wrong, happiness would follow. There’s some truth to that.
If you aren’t aware of your emotional hurts or triggers, you’re usually reactive when they get touched. Long story short, at that time we spent a lot of time dissecting our what’s wrongs instead of remembering our what’s rights.
When I told people my essay idea about a group called the Secret Society of Happy People, they would most often respond, “Let me know when you start it, I want to join.” To my shock, no one wanted to read my essay, but they did want to be part of a group that celebrated happiness.
In 1998, I took the plunge and started the Secret Society of Happy People. We got our first member that wasn’t part of my friend and family circle on August 8 — from Lawrence, Kansas. They mailed in the membership form with a check, and I sent them the membership T-shirt, button, lapel pin, and bumper sticker. It was actually one of the happiest moments of my life — a total stranger wanted to be in my happy group.
Our goal was simple: get more people talking about what made them happy. So, our slogan was “Are You Happier Than You Admit You Are?”
This was pre-internet, unlike it is today. Webpages were so new that most businesses didn’t have one. When my neighbor told me I should get one I thought “Why?”.
He was kind of insistent, mostly because he wanted to build a site, because lots of techies were just wanting to learn how to build websites at that time. Eventually, he convinced me to let him build it. It’s why we have a short domain name—sohp.com. For some reason, ssohp.com didn’t feel right. In my head, I thought one day we might drop the word secret.
Our first site was a big black homepage with the words “Are You Happier Than You Admit You Are?” floating around. It was actually exciting to see it.
It was also pre-social media—Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name a few. You actually had to get the word out about new things the old school way with ads if you could afford them (we couldn’t), flyers, friends telling friends and publicity. The Society thanks Ann Landers for helping us jump start that.
Also, around that same time, the positive psychology movement became as popular as the “what hurt you” movement, and eventually they merged. But as this was happening, people were talking more about happiness.
Well, after twenty-one years, the Society has done a pretty good job of sharing our secret:
- We have thousands of members from 45 known countries
- Thousands of people are connected to us via social media platforms
- We’re listed 182 million times if you Google search Secret Society of Happy People
- We’ve been in hundreds of stories in newspapers, magazines, online sites, TV and radio stations, in some cases more than once including — The Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News, USA Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Costco Connection and People Magazine to name a few
- We’re on Wikipedia
It seems, as we continue to celebrate happiness for the next twenty years, that it’s time to drop the Secret and become the Society of Happy People.
We’ll have the same web address, same goals and the same great group of people connecting based on a shared interest in celebrating happiness when it happens. Maybe one day, I’ll be on my bed pondering, “Where are all of the cranky people?”
To Celebrate Not Being A Secret Any More – We Have 5 NEW Memberships – Each Has Some Incredible “Member Only” Goodies.. Click Below To Learn More..