fyi DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY Has it bee ...

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DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY

Has it been one of those years where your dog ran away and so did your boss -- with your 401(k) savings? Where your favorite team -- we're not naming names -- let glory slip through their fingers?

Well, cheer up. This year hasn't been all bad. While you were obsessed with your own troubles, plenty of happy moments were being enjoyed and Pamela Gail Johnson, president and founder of the Secret Society of Happy People, has a list to prove it.

The list, compiled from suggestions submitted by society members and traditionally dour reporters, may raise a few eyebrows around the Bay Area, but smile at the ones you can agree with and move on.

The Secret Society of Happy People's 5th annual 10 Happiest Events and Moments:

10. It's not often a banker can bring a smile to the world, but the boom in mortgage refinancing continued throughout 2002, allowing millions of homeowners to lower their monthly payments.

9. After reviewing more than 400,000 jokes, the United Kingdom's Laugh Lab determined the "World's Funniest Joke." The winner? "A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: 'My friend is dead! What can I do? The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: 'Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead.' There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: 'OK, now what?'"

This same brain trust also determined, through a computer, that the funniest jokes have 103 words, and ducks are funnier than cows.

8. Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, who campaigned with the slogan "one tough grandma," received the Happy Campaign Trails Award for Excellence in Political Campaign Media Philosophy.

7. Even though Christopher Reeve suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in 1995, he has never abandoned hope of walking again. This year came word that his dream may not be as impossible as it seemed. Thanks to medical breakthroughs and Reeve's hard work, his condition has markedly improved, allowing him to move muscles that had been paralyzed, proving that even the smallest of miracles matter.

6. The Dallas Cowboys may be heated rivals of the San Francisco 49ers, but give Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith his due. This year, Smith eclipsed the record of the late Walter Payton, becoming the NFL's All-Time Leading Rusher. And he's a nice guy to boot.

5. It took 74 years to reach this historic moment, but watching Halle Berry graciously accept the Oscar for best actress improved our crankiness over the long wait. Berry became the first black leading actress to win the coveted award.

4. The results weren't what fans of the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco Giants would have scripted, but the Super Bowl win for the New England Patriots and the World Series title for the Anaheim Angels showed us that the unexpected still happens for those who work hard, dream big and have faith.

3. It came late in the year, but Americans finally learned that Al Gore does have a sense of humor thanks to his "Saturday Night Live" performance.

2. There's nothing like a good love story to put a smile on your face, and William and Claudia Lillian Ritchie's love story has been going strong for 83 years. The Kentucky couple were recognized by the folks at Guinness World Records as the planet's longest married couple.

1. The happiest moment of 2002 is one you can relive over and over. Chosen tops by the secret society, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is honored for showing us that it doesn't take big stars and a big budget to make a big hit. Sometimes, all it takes is a little romance, a great script and word of mouth. Besides, the movie gave us hope and made us laugh. You can't get a finer happy moment than that.

http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/living/4839275.htm