Thanks to Heidi Richards Mooney's Quirky Marketing Calendar, I now make it a habit to check out the special "holidays" each month. That's how I discovered our latest Success Story.
Did you know August is "Happiness Happens" Month? And our profile is none other than the founder of Secret Society of Happy People and creator of Happiness Happens Month. While she is not exactly a boomer, and perhaps not a business person as you would think of it, her story is such fun, I had to share. So - meet Pamela Gail Johnson!
1. Pamela, tell us a bit about yourself.
Always a hard one. Philosophically, most would call me a silver linking seeker. I try to figure out what’s right or what can be learned from the good, the bad and the ugly that we all experience.
Day-to-day, I’m the founder of the Secret Society of Happy People, have a full-time plus day job, love to read, practice yoga, and spend time with my dog Tater, friends and family doing anything from going to events to having great conversation.
2. What is the Secret Society of Happy People?
We started 17 years ago when happiness and positive psychology wasn’t part of the general cultural conversation like it is today. We were more in the self-help how to heal from old wounds place. The Society started as a funny way to say, “It’s OK to be happy just because you’re happy and talk about it.”
3. How did Happiness Happens Month get started?
We started getting media attention the first year we started because talking about happiness was actually novel at the time. As we were about the reach our first year milestone one of our members said, “Hey there really isn’t a day to recognize happiness. There are lots of days that talking about unhappy emotions but not happiness. There should be one.” I thought about it and agreed. I picked August 8 to be Admit You’re Happy Day (which became Happiness Happens Day). That was the day we got our first official member that I didn’t personally know. However, some people couldn’t celebrate that day so they were a little unhappy and the following year we added Happiness Happens Month.
4. What inspired the Happiness Happens Month Challenge?
I see so many exercise challenges I thought what about working out that happy muscle. It’s true that Happiness Happens, it’s also true that sometimes we need a little action to help it happen. If you’re consciously focusing on doing something for 31 days it’s the foundation for a habit.
5. I did join the challenge. I even helped pay for Pink Lemonade! I also invited friends to participate and I have to admit I was surprised at the response. Not just the number of people who said yes, but also at which friends said yes. Some of them were the ones I least expected. Are you ever surprised by the number of people who are part of Happiness Happens Month?
Thank you for supporting Happiness Happens Month in so many ways. I’d say I’m surprised that we’re celebrating our 15th Happiness Happens Month. The internet and all of the social media sites have made it impossible for me to figure out how many people participate but I’m honored that so many do. Happiness Happens Month became bigger than me many years ago and if it helps anyone think about happiness in a different way it achieved its goal.
6. You know I have to ask this – what exactly is “happiness”?
In Society world we have 31 Types of Happiness. Personally, I think of happiness as a moment. Depending on the moment my happiness may be defined differently. If I’m tired, sleep might make me happy. If I’m energetic, being social might make me happy. Happiness sometimes depends on what’s going on. If I just finished an annoying work project, my happiness might be the relief and satisfaction I feel when it’s done.
7. Are there people who are genuinely happy no matter what?
Science has proven that some people have genetically higher happiness set points so it’s just biologically easier for some of us to be more optimistic than others. However, that only accounts for about half of our happiness. The other half has to do with how we think and our circumstances. Also, no one is happy all of the time, even those who’s consider themselves mostly happy. Unhappiness and the emotions it evokes are part of everyone’s lives. I think those with higher happiness set points probably find it easier to naturally move to the healing phase of those unhappy circumstances. Others may have to work at it a bit harder but no one is happy not matter what.
8. What about unhappy people? I personally can think of a couple of people who never seem happy. Can they be?
Since half of our happiness is self and circumstance determined everyone has the opportunity to feel some types of happiness. However, some people feel more comfortable living in a world that’s unhappy. I think of them as the chronically cranky. Meaning they could win the lottery but they’d see the taxes they have to pay instead of the windfall they received as a gift. Happy people can’t change this person. This person has to decide they want to be happy but they can.
9. What has been the most difficult part of being the face of Happiness?
I’m just one of many faces of happiness. I don’t think there’s anything difficult about it because most days I’m happy. No managing all of the technical aspects of a website, emailing lists, graphics, content, and all of the social media sites has gotten s much more cumbersome than it was 15 years ago.
10. This is a website for budding boomerpreneurs and while yours may not be what most people would think of when you say “business”, you have been very successful at promoting yourself and your brand. Do you have any resources that you have used that you would recommend?
I had to come to the realization about two years ago that I had to hire people to help me with the stuff I wasn’t good at or didn’t necessarily have the time to do like research. I’d always had help with the website but it had to go beyond that, especially since I have a day job too. I write all of my own blog but I send most of them to an editor for example. I’d say if you’re a solo boomerpreneur remember you’re one person and be kind to yourself. There are lots of virtual admins that can be lifesavers.
11. Do you have any tips to share on promoting yourself?
Since we live in a world of social engagement, remember to connect with people on your social media sites and interact. Don’t just spew information. Be authentic when you can, but recognize you’re a brand. For example, I live in Dallas so I’m a Mavericks fan (basketball). A few years ago they were beat by the Heat for the championship. That didn’t make me happy, but it certainly made some of my followers happy. So as a brand it’s my role to remember that. It didn’t mean I didn’t root for my team or say a I’m bummed for me that they lost. But I also said I was happy the Heat fans. It’s blending authenticity with the high road.
12. What other advice would like to share?
Get enough sleep … I think we live in a world of exhausted souls which impedes happiness on so many levels but reenergizing your soul begins with being physically rested.
13. How can we contact you to learn more about The Secret Society of Happy People and the Happiness Happens Month Challenge?