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Smile! It’s World Smile Day…Every Day!

Oct 6, 2021

by Carey Little
Clinical Psychologist

Did you know there was such a thing as World Smile Day? No? Me neither until I was asked to write this blog 😀. And given the designated day is 1st October, you are likely reading this after the celebration has passed, but do not worry!

Read on to find out why you should, and how you can, celebrate Smile Day every day of the year. But first, a little history…

In the USA in 1963 a graphic artist called Harvey Ball created the smile emoji we all know so well 😀. (Of course, he didn’t create an emoji, he made the smiley face symbol, but these days it’s one of the most popular messaging emojis and likely the most recent place you’ve seen it). What Harvey noticed over the years was the symbol was becoming more standardised and automatically used, for anything and everything including political activity. And he didn’t like that. Harvey saw his little image moving away from the heartfelt goodwill and good cheer he had intended it to arouse, to being an overused commercial commodity. To get the smiley image reconnected to his original intentions, Harvey came up with the idea of world smile day and in 1999 it became a reality. He died in 2001 but the legacy lives on with his motto “Enhancing this world, one smile” (Yeah. Not that catchy Harvey and sounds like it is missing an ending but that’s okay, we get the idea 😀) (Useful little thing the smiley face, isn’t it?) So why engage in World Smile Day?

As part of Harvey’s legacy, ‘World Smile Foundation’ has been created and is a non-profit trust raising money through activities on World Smile Day to supports a range of services for children, but there are many other reasons smiling is good for you to practice every day too.

Let’s look at some scientific facts about SMILING:

    • Smiling releases feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins which create feelings of pleasure and euphoria. So, you can influence good feelings just by simply smiling! 😀
    • Smiles reduce stress and raise positive mood, even if forced or fake at first 😀
      • Laughter therapy starts with smiling and becomes contagious. Fake a smile for a moment and see what happens 😉 Feels silly right? Might even make you giggle you feel so silly…but notice does your mood lift ever so slightly?
    • Smiling while doing engaging in our everyday activities reduces our stress and makes us feel less annoyed. Smiling will affect the energy around you, and is likely to improve positive interactions with others. Try it – when you smile, its more likely someone will smile in return. When you see someone smile at you, your endorphins increase, and the cycle continues 😀
    • Smiling communicates safety and warmth to others and will make interactions start with ease 😀
    • Smiling takes more muscles than frowning or a neutral face so is good for your facial muscles 😀

Now what? Smile, and give these four research proven actions a try:

  1. Smile your way through mundane or frustrating tasks and see the difference!
  2. Smile at everyone including strangers (even with your Covid face mask, a smile can be seen in the changed shape of your face and eyes).
  3. Complete a random act of small and unasked for kindness; pay a compliment (even to a stranger), thank everyone for the things they do for you, acknowledge someone for their effort whether on a big task or helping you locate something in a store.
  4. Give to a charity or volunteer or show some kindness to someone who is struggling.

Smiling is SO easy and has SO many benefits for you and those around you. A smile can change a day, one moment at a time 😀

Need more inspiration or motivation? Try your favourite music, watch some silly cat/dog/baby videos, think of your favourite places or times, or read some quotes (https://www.keepinspiring.me/quotes-about-smiling/ ).  Really struggling?  Try holding a pencil on your upper lip; it forces a smile and releases those neurotransmitters (make a duck-lip smile to do it; guaranteed to make you laugh!)

Truth is, while Harvey’s day might happen formally once a year in October, there is nothing to stop you having a Smile on Your Dial Day, every day 😀 😀 😀