“Pippa Passes” was a dramatic piece, as much play as poetry, by Robert Browning—published in 1841 as the first volume of his “Bells and Pomegranates” series. His original idea was of a young, innocent girl, moving unblemished through the crime-ridden neighborhoods of Asolo, Italy. And as she moved through the town, she sang and whistled and the troubled people inside the houses that she passed were changed by her happiness even though they never saw her or knew her. Her happy song alone was enough to change almost everyone who heard it. This sounds very simplistic, I know, but the truth is that this kind of thing actually does work. Now, severely depressed people are not going to get better by hearing happy songs or by “thinking positive thoughts” as some wish it would. However, the very act, the physical changes caused by your face forming a smile does cause a chemical change in your brain. Try it. Smile and see if that doesn’t in and of itself make you feel just a little better. A regimen of smiling several times a day will indeed make your day brighter. Smiling at people, especially children is also an upper as they almost always smile back. Sometimes, Karen and I sit on the back porch here and wave and smile at the adults, children, and teens passing by. Almost without fail, if we wave and smile, they wave and smile and that’s just too cool. It is also an established fact that being around positive and upbeat people causes changes in those around them. It is hard to be down when you are constantly around people who are up, happy, smiling, and making the most of the day. It is not impossible to stay down, depressed, angry, or sad under those circumstances to be sure, but it is more difficult. Ask any employer about the areas of their work where positive, upbeat people work and see if they don’t tell you it affects the work of those around them. Sometimes, when I am really down, it makes me angry to have happy people around, but the anger never lasts.
Remember what if feels like to walk into a room and have someone’s face light up when they see you? That just feels good, no question. I pray you have had that experience because there is nothing like it. I can remember the first times each of my boys, when they were babies, smiled when they saw me. What a euphoric lift that was. Even our little Tibetan Terrier, Sissie, can change my mood if when I walk in the room, she runs to me with her tail wagging. If I go outside, at least three large dogs will fall all over themselves getting close to me and wagging their tails. We do indeed have the power to make the world a happier place by our own happiness. This is one time I really like what Jesus said about not hiding your light under a bushel. The more you smile, the more you light up the room and lift the hearts of those who see your smile and hear the happy tone of your voice as you meet them. Okay, it does seem a little farfetched for Pippa’s song to change as many people as it does, but it’s not an impossibility. Browning was on to something and knew that when we are happy, as he wrote in “Pippa Passes,” we do feel as if “God’s in His Heaven — All’s right with the world.” Do yourself and others a favor today, smile a lot and lift someone else’s spirits. It does you good as well, and you can take that to the bank.