Pam Johnson knows that thousands of employees share a dirty little secret – they are happier with their jobs and their companies than they dare admit.
Why is that shameful? Because, according to Pam, founder of the Secret Society of Happy People, in this age of Jerry Springer it’s uncool (almost to the point of deviance) to admit that you’re happy.
Pam isn’t promoting the kind of robotic, relentlessly upbeat cheeriness that infects infomercials. She agrees that no normal person is all-happy, all the time and that the excessive cheeriness can be annoying. On the other hand, most of us aren’t as miserable, alienated, disaffected or cynical as popular culture would have us believe, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of admitting that we’re happy.
“If you’re happy with 60, 70 or 80 percent of your life, then shouldn’t it get at least 50 percent of your conversation time?” she asks. “Contrary to what you may think, happy people can be just as intelligent and serious as unhappy people.
To spread the word that it’s OK to talk about happiness and to discourage others from raining on happy people’s parades, Pam created the Society in 1998. The Irving, Tex.-based organization – which Pam admits is run mostly by Pam for about 1,700 members across the country – publishes a newsletter (available at 800-291-3068) and operates a Web site (www.sohp.com). It has declared August “Admit You’re Happy Month” and has produced a Celebration Kit that companies can buy ($125) to encourage their employees to admit they’re happy at work. The kit contains a T-shirt, posters, buttons, balloons, pass-along cards and a copy of Pam’s book, “Don’t Even Think of Raining on My Parade.”
Pam said the Celebration month will be a way for lots of people who actually like their jobs and their bosses to effectively come out of the closet and admit they’re happy. What’s happiness? Without venturing into the depths of philosophy, Pam has identified 21 types: amusement, anticipation, bittersweet, borrowed (when we share in another’s happiness), celebration, cheerful, contentment, exuberance, fun, giving, grateful, humor, joyful, love, peaceful, playful, relief, satisfaction, spiritual, surprise and sweet (small kindnesses).
Since no good effort goes unpunished – especially one as sinister as a movement to spread happiness – Pam has seen some surprising responses to her group. While it’s totally independent from any other organization and does not pursue any agenda other than encouraging people to admit they’re happy, the Society has been accused of being a front for far-right religious fanatics and of being neo-Nazis.
Others have accused Pam of profiting from the organization and of trying to force people to be happy.
“I have moments when I wonder what I have created and whether it’s worth it,” she says. “I get personally attacked for encouraging people to express something as innocent as happiness, and it’s costing me a lot of money.”
Happiness circa 2000 is definitely weird. When Pam asked governors to proclaim August 8th “National Admit You’re Happy Day,” 16 did, but more typical was the response from the office of Jesse Ventura: “Governor Ventura represents the citizens of Minnesota and doesn’t see how this impacts them.”
Article – Copyright 2000 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA