The first Friday of October is World Smile Day (October 2), a relatively new holiday with a fascinating story. Created by a commercial artist named Harvey Ball, this day came about as a response to his creation of the smiley face. Harvey worried that the commercialization of the symbol would lessen its impact. We can hardly blame him for his estimation; the symbol has been used in many different ways including clothing, comic books, coffee mugs, pins, and more. These little yellow faces are more than just a symbol, they’re a statement about the power of smiling.
History of World Smile Day
In 1963, Harvey Ball, a graphic artist and ad man from Worcester, Massachusetts, created the smiley face symbol we’ve all come to know. Popularity for this symbol exploded into the world of popular culture. It’s every artists’ dream for their work to be respected and recreated and few symbols have had quite the legacy that Harvey’s creation has had.
Throughout the years, the smiley face has become one of the most well-known symbols in the world. It has appeared in movies such as ‘Forest Gump’ and used as a motif in the graphic novel, ‘Watchmen.’ It’s so well-known that just by saying “smiley face”, we bet that you can see it in your mind. That recognizable yellow circle with black dots for eyes and a simple curve for a genuine and pure smile. However, the original smiley face had more of an oblong smile, a bit more hand drawn in aesthetic, taking up more space on the face than we see in modern recreations. Because of its overuse, it started to move away from its intent of goodwill and good cheer and he knew something had to be done.
In 1999, World Smile Day became an official holiday in order to regain control. The celebration aspects of the day were simple yet effective: people were to use the day to smile and make small acts of kindness worldwide. Harvey wanted to keep the smile connected to the human being. By doing so, you’d smile and in return, you’d make someone else smile and brighten up their day.
World Smile Day timeline
Never stop smiling
Harvey Ball passes away, but the power of the smile continues thanks in large part because of his dream.
World Smile Day becomes an official holiday to inspire acts of kindness.
The popularity of the smiley face emoji increases with the expansion of the internet and its use as an emoji.
Let's get political
The smiley face is used in cartoons, comics, and for political movements.
The commercial artist Harvey Ball creates the smiley face.
World Smile Day FAQs
Does World Smile Day have a motto?
The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation has the motto “Enhancing this world, one smile.”
Is World Smile Day celebrated around the world?
Events for World Smile Day are celebrated in the United States and all over the world.
What do they call the “smiley face” in other countries?
In France it was called sourire, and in Japan, it was a “peace love mark.”
World Smile Day Activities
Do Unto Others
There are many organizations that could use volunteers willing to offer extra help. Whether it involves cleaning up the environment, or helping the elderly, or giving back to veterans it all makes the world a better place. Doing something charitable outside of your everyday life can have enlightening effects on you and your community.
Follow Your Dreams
With work and other obligations, it can be hard to find time for yourself. We all have hopes and dreams that we’ve put on the back burner. Use this day to indulge in your heart’s desire. Pull out your guitar from the closet, pick up a paintbrush, anything that deeply resonates with you that will put a smile back on your face.
Commit a Random Act of Kindness
Not everything has to be planned out. Keeping a sense of goodwill in your spirit all day is the perfect way to celebrate. You’ll have it in mind to keep an eye out for ways that you can brighten someone’s day. Compliment someone’s outfit, thank your co-workers for their work ethic. Whatever small way you can positively impact someone, follow your instincts. You’d be surprised how much an acknowledgment can mean to someone.
Five Surprising Facts About World Smile Day
Happiness is biological
When you smile, neurotransmitters called endorphins are created that cause feelings of pleasure.
Yellow is used as the color of the smiley face because it's a symbol of cheerfulness.
The Smiley Company office in London, England, is worth more than $55m per year.
In 1999, 470 iterations of the smileys were created for internet emoticons.
The World Smile Foundation is a non-profit charitable trust that supports wonderful children's causes.
Why We Love World Smile Day
A day to show we care
While we use smile emojis in our digital conversations, we don’t always smile with our real faces. It’s always good to remember the benefits that true smiles can do for our own emotional well-being.
It brightens up the dark
When the world seems in a disarray, it can be hard to find your own smile. Enjoyment might seem like a preposterous thing at times, but science tells us that finding lightness in the dark can make you less anxious, annoyed, and sad.
Take on tougher tasks
People often neglect how much mental health affects our productivity. When you’re in the proper headspace, it can give you the boost you need to go about your day. It can also help positively raise the energy of those around you.
World Smile Day dates