Happiness may be making a comeback

December 04, 1998|By Liz Stevens | Liz Stevens,FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

If you're happy and you know it

keep it to yourself, thanks.

Happiness, it sometimes seems, has gone the way of Tab cola and Milli Vanilli, fading into oblivion. It's hip to be hopeless, stylish to be stressed and popular to be a pitiable sap spreading gloom and bad juju. Even Ann Landers seems to be toeing the "No one wants to hear about your good fortune" line.

Maybe it's the Jerry Springer effect.

Whatever it is, Pam Johnson is tired of it; she's not mad, mind you, because that would be a waste of mental energy. Instead, she is doing something to counteract the widespread negativity she encounters daily.

In August, Johnson, 32, founded the Secret Society of Happy People. It might sound corny, but Johnson's message strikes a universal chord: We spend way too much time whining about our problems and way too little time acknowledging the good moments.

Johnson, who lives in Irving, Texas, began teaching personal empowerment workshops at local community centers several years back.

Her clients encouraged her to publish a newsletter, and Johnson added a humor column following the antics of a fictitious Secret Society of Happy People.

But then real people started asking Johnson if they could join the club, and voila: The Web site (www.sohp.com) went up in September, the first newsletter is scheduled for mailing this month, and more than 50 people nationwide have coughed up $30 to become official members. (Each one receives a T-shirt, lapel pin, bumper sticker, quarterly newsletter and opportunity for a pen pal.)

The goal of SSOHP is to move people away from bonding based on "woundology," a term coined by "Anatomy of the Spirit" author Caroline Myss. Johnson urges a stop-and-smell-the-roses approach. Give as much time to dwelling on the great things in life as to the cruddy stuff, she says, and encourage others to share positive thoughts.

"Most people laugh at me at first, and then they get it," Johnson says. "It's one of those things that they already somewhat know."

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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