On Sept 18th, 2006 Janet THE HAHA Lady was featured on THE TODAY show in a segment "It's never too late to find happiness."
The segment was taped in West Palm Beach on Sept 2nd at Panera Bread on Village Blvd.
Janet shares "While everyone else was preparing for the possibility of Hurricane Ernesto, I was searching for a place for the TODAY show to come and film me for a segment entitled “It’s Never Too Late to Find Happiness.” Besides having to find a place to film, I also had to plan the program as well as gather people to be part of it. On Saturday Sept 2, I arrived at Panera Bread on Village Blvd to meet the crew, which consisted of a freelance producer from Miami, a cameraman and his assistant. While they set up for the first part of the day, I was setting up for my program entitled “Access Your Inner Princess.” Then at 1:30 I sat outside in my favorite Quacker Factory outfit for a one-hour private interview on my viewpoints n happiness and on the Humor Alliance for Healthy Attitudes. We finished the interview just as the rain clouds got very heavy and we got inside before the big downpour. Then after a short break and a change of clothes (per the New York producer’s request), the princesses entered into the transformed room to be entertained for an hour. They got to make princess wands, give themselves princess names, dress up like princesses and learn about how to be empowered women. Then to end the afternoon, the group gathered outside to play in my favorite creation, the bubble playground. We concluded the filming around 5 pm. I was very glad that it was all over and could relax with friends afterwards. I was totally calm during the filming as I concentrated on doing what I do and having fun. "
The article that promted the Today Show
6,000-member society promotes looking on the bright side of life
By Margo Harakas
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted August 7 2006
Pamela Johnson believes in happiness. She believes that in nearly everyone's day is a moment of playfulness, optimism, exuberance, love, beauty or relief that deserves being cherished and nurtured, deserves being talked about.At least 6,000 others, from 51 countries, share her view, including Janet Lifshin, of West Palm Beach, and Jeanne Ball, of Plantation, both card-carrying members in Johnson's 8-year-old Secret Society of Happy People (www.sohp.com).
These cheery crusaders of joy will be doing their part to lighten up friends, family and colleagues during August, which the society has proclaimed Happiness Happens Month, and particularly on Tuesday, Happiness Happens Day."I'm going to pass out happiness coupons," Ball says with a laugh.Lifshin, who likes to refer to herself as a Minister of Mirth, will dress as Lady HaHa to spread good cheer.Others will pass out silver-wrapped chocolate Kisses to remind one and all that even the darkest clouds have silver linings.Johnson, of Coppell, Texas, lived in Florida for seven years in the 1990s. She believes the Sunshine State is, by and large, a happy state, though Gov. Jeb Bush twice turned down the organization's request for a proclamation in honor of its annual Hunt for Happiness Week.Florida, in fact, ranks third, behind California and Texas, when it comes to membership in the Secret Society of Happy People.The problem with many people, says Johnson, 40, is they focus on what's annoying and upsetting rather than on what's uplifting, and they keep their "happiness in the closet," hence the Secret in the Society's name."I think culturally, and this goes back to the '90s, culturally as we made self-help so socially acceptable, it's how we started getting our kudos. When we walk into a room and are excited about something good that has happened, people don't chime in. Whereas if you're annoyed about your husband not picking up his socks, everybody chimes in. We get kudos when we talk about what's wrong."In fact, says Johnson, who works in sales and business development, if you have enough to complain about, you'll become famous, you'll become the next Lifetime movie of the week.Johnson's self-appointed mission is not to change the world but to change attitudes by changing the conversation.Spreading the word"I just want to make the conversation of happiness chic again," she says. She wants to spread the contagion of cheerfulness without someone "raining on our parade."Lifshin, 55, a certified laughter leader and family life educator, says it's not happiness that makes us laugh, "but laughter that makes us happy."Trained in what she calls therapeutic laughter, "I go to treatment centers and work with women in recovery. I go to parenting groups. I teach people ways to have fun."Happiness, she believes, is a choice."My husband passed away 12 years ago. I had a young son with challenges, as well. He's adopted. He had losses and learning disabilities. I embarked on finding ways to change my life."While she couldn't change her circumstances, she could change her attitude."I had a friend who went to funny movies every week. I went along. I started bowling every week. I still bowl. I just graduated from Lynn University [with a bachelor's in behavioral sciences]. A friend asked, `Are you going to get another job now?' I said, `No, I'm going to continue doing what I do. I can't give up bowling.' Those two hours every week with those 18 women brings me joy."The name of her team: The Laughing Ladies. Lifshin also founded the HAHA Club -- Humor Alliance for Healthy Attitudes.
She joined the Secret Society about three years ago. "Their thinking was so in line with mine. I was thrilled to find an organization with the same philosophy."
Among friends, family and colleagues, Ball has a rep as the eternal optimist. The self-employed software consultant is convinced cheerfulness is a product of attitude and learned behavior.
"We all have mortgages and bills and deaths in the family," notes Ball, 36. Those who weather the hardships yet still manage a smile, she contends, are those determined to recognize the joys in life.
"I try to take nothing for granted. I genuinely appreciate where I am in life.
"Every day I write down five things that make me happy or grateful for that day," she says, a trick picked up from watching Oprah Winfrey.
It can be something as simple as missing all the red lights, getting to work safely or receiving a sweet e-mail from her husband. Or winning 15 times on lottery scratch-off tickets. "I only won a dollar each time, but still," she says.
Or the joy of the moment may be her dog.
"Dogs are born with a happy gene," says Ball, laughing. "No matter what ... their tail is always wagging."
For Lifshin, "Cuddling with my cats makes me happy."
She reads positive, affirming passages every day, surrounds herself with objects that give her pleasure, interacts with "great friends ... whom I can talk to and lean on."
And she blows bubbles.
"I've become quite a bubbleologist. That's one of the activities I do with parents and children.
"I do it with my cats and with kids and to relieve stress. It brings people joy, and it's such a simple thing. I carry a little bottle with me and if I see a crying child, I blow bubbles."
Johnson and her sunny cohorts don't blithely ignore the hardships and pains of life, nor suggest we should pretend to be happy all the time.
"Not every moment or every thing is something to laugh about," acknowledges Lifshin. "We don't live in a very happy world right now. We have war and poverty and murders. We have a lot of stress. But appreciate what you do have, and look at your options, at what you can change. Not everything is bad."
"There is a personal day-to-day happiness that we should all embrace," says Johnson.
It can be those little moments of watching a sunset, taking a walk, reading a good book or enjoying the company of a friend. Those moments of joy can vary from person to person and change over time.
Johnson and her colleagues have actually come up with 31 types of happiness. Among them are amusement, contentment, anticipation, cheerfulness, relief, gratefulness, sharing in another's happy moment, love, playfulness, nostalgia.
Through the Web site and newsletter and the specially proclaimed dates, members are reminded to look at those happy moments, recognize them, embrace them and talk about them.
To some grumps, amazingly, happiness is a fighting word. Johnson discovered early on, through profane and threatening e-mails, that cheerfulness can strangely enrage others. One crank warned her and her kind to keep their happiness to themselves if they wanted to escape "retaliatory action."
Maybe a good laugh is the best response.
Margo Harakas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4728.
The Secret Society of Happy People
For more information on The Secret Society of Happy People, visit their website at www.sohp.com tell them the HAHA Lady sent you.