Sometimes all it takes is a smile. Perhaps you’ve seen mine, bigger than life (literally), on the side of the Cascade Theatre. Seriously, my mouth is about four feet wide and my smile is all teeth and gums. I’m right next to Sue Lang in the big hat, under Dan Kupsky and the entire cast of the Wizard of Oz, a few over from Carol Skill, and above a whole row of happy kids. I bet you’ve seen it, about 40 feet up in the air, driving by on Placer on your way to work or the grocery store over the past week and thought, What is that all about?
Well, I can’t tell you all about it right now.
It’s fund drive week at JPR, so I’ve been kind of busy. Plus, in my spare time this week I finally traced my ancestry back to the first recorded interracial marriage in America, between Pocahontas and her British lover. Yeah, what we’ve all known has finally been verified: I’m part princess, part tamed savage. Not my words, by the way. That’s what the Brits said about Pocahontas when she visited England with her husband. And I’ve only got about an hour before a whole bunch of girlfriends show up at my house expecting liquor and black truffled cheese, so unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of having any more time left to tell you all about the Inside Out Redding Project at this time. What I really wanted to talk about in the short time I have left is the concept of smiling.
Putting on a happy face.
Accentuating the positive.
There’s been so much talk around town since my last column, which highlighted the Gallup Poll & accompanying study on how much Reddingites hate their lives. Since that time I’ve done a lot of thinking about what we individually can really do to start improving life in this city, and I think I’ve honestly figured it out.
The good news is that it doesn’t involve passing any laws, doesn’t involve giving any more money to law enforcement to crack down on the meth labs or illegal pot grows, and doesn’t involve the homeless or the panhandlers. Almost every single one of us can take some action that I believe will drastically improve not only our own lives, but the lives of others in our direct vicinity, and I have to think Katrina Keyes (the photographer who came up with the idea to plaster all those faces on the buildings downtown) for the inspiration.
All we really need to do is to put on a happy face.
You see, a couple of days ago I bumped into newspaper reporter David Benda while he was out walking near my office at the Cascade Theatre, checking out the brand new artwork on the building. He asked my opinion. I said Katrina couldn’t have had better timing putting up her art installation because of the Gallup Poll, because I thought her art could really help things. He said, “Really? You think an art project could instigate positive change?”
Yeah, I really do.
It’s not just the art itself. It’s the smiles. The smiles on the faces of 172 people plastered all over the walls downtown, reminding you every time you drive or walk by that there are happy people in this city. People who are just waiting to smile at you.
I wasn’t really all that surprised when Benda’s piece ran in the paper, followed by a slew of negative comments. The negative nabobs said the art project wasn’t going to do anything to improve downtown. That it should instead be photos of drug addicts and homeless people if it wanted to be more accurate. That there was no way the photographs would stimulate foot traffic (although every single day this week I have seen people lining up in the parking lot outside, gawking at the photos). Here’s proof positive of that.
So I’m going to tell you the same thing I said in the comments section myself. We need to start being more positive, all of us, as we go about our daily lives. We need to walk out the door with a smile on our faces, and keep it there every time we come into contact with people. No matter if they’re homeless, wearing a tie, walking down the street with a bottle of liquor with the security device from Safeway still attached to the top, or behind the counter at the DMV (and the next time you see my husband, congratulate him, he’s a full fledged licensed Californian now).
Have you ever made a friend while wearing a frown? Ever landed a date with a negative attitude? Had a successful job interview while talking smack about your last job? I didn’t think so. The key to happiness and attracting happiness is having a positive attitude, and having a smile on your face is the easiest way to spread happiness and encourage it from others. It’s contagious.
So smile, dammit, smile. And see what happens.
You could also give a listen to today’s Happy playlist, which is all about happiness, smiles and positive attitudes. Go on, give it a whirl. I bet it’ll make you smile!
- Happy – Pharel Williams
- Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
- Smile – Uncle Kracker
- Happy Pills – Norah Jones
- Accentuate The Positive – Ella Fitzgerald
- Smile – Lea Michele (Glee)
- Happy Ending – Mika
- So Happy Together – The Monkees
- God Put A Smile Upon Your Face – Mark Ronson
- God Put A Smile Upon Your Face – Coldplay
- Happy Up Here – Royksopp
- Sara Smile – Hall & Oates
- Merry Happy – Kate Nash
- Smile – Lily Allen
- If It Makes You Happy – Sheryl Crow
- Just To See You Smile – Tim McGraw
- Happy – The Rolling Stones
- Smile – U2
- Put On A Happy Face – Stevie Wonder
- Whatever Makes You Happy – The Miracles
- Happy Feet – Paolo Conte
- Positive Vibration – Bob Marley
- Happy Hands & Happy Feet – Dada Life
- Smile A Little Smile For Me – The Flying Machine
- Smile For Me – War
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.