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Sunday, December 6, 1998
Secret Society asks: Are you happier than you
admit you are?
By ROBERT G. WIELAND
DALLAS -- If you're happy and you know it -- shhh!
There's a spot for you in the Secret Society of Happy People.
"If you're happy but don't admit it because other people
don't want to hear it, then we're the society for you," says
founder Pam Johnson.
The society, founded in August in the Dallas suburb of Irving,
promotes the idea that it's OK to be happy, despite the lack of
positive response from others.
That's especially true at Christmas, Johnson says, challenging
advice columnist Ann Landers on the subject of family news letters
enclosed with holiday cards.
"Spare us the details of the Ivy League schools your children
are attending and the honors and awards they have received during
the year ... Just let us know in a handwritten note that your
family is well and doing something useful," said a recent
letter signed "Your Cousins in Illinois."
Ann Landers responded: "Dear Cousins: Thank you for expressing
sentiments that are sure to be shared (and appreciated) by millions
of readers. Including me."
In a letter to Landers, Johnson demanded an apology "to
the millions of people you made feel bad for wanting to share
their happy news."
Happiness is about recognizing the happy moments of your life,
not about competing with others, Johnson wrote.
"Happy moments are good things that need to be shared
more -- not less," she said.
Landers' editor in Los Angeles, Katherine Searcy, said she
would pass along Johnson's letter and request a reply from the
Americans waste a lot of time discussing topics like: "My
girlfriend/boyfriend is a jerk," "I don't like my job,"
"I need to lose 30 pounds," "If I only had more
money," and "I need to buy something," Johnson
The society does not suggest that people should pretend they
are content or ignore real problems, but urges people to stop
grousing and answer the question: "Are you happier than you
admit you are?"
"Most people think about it for a moment and they reply,
'You know, I am,' " Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the society has about 60-plus secretly
happy members and recruits mainly through its Internet site: www.sohp.com.
A member who signed herself "Beth," posted a personal
testimonial to happiness.
"I work with people with disabilities who have suffered
injuries from car accidents, falls, etc. They constantly inspire
me by showing up at therapy in the morning with a smile on their
face and a kind greeting for everyone -- perhaps because they
recognize how lucky they are to be alive!" she wrote.
"When things get crazy and busy, we forget about how lucky
we are and how good our lives really are! Think about the many
things and people in your life that bring happiness to you, and
don't forget to tell loved ones how happy you are that they are
in your life!" Beth wrote.
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