World Smile Day: More Than Just Saying “Cheese”


World Smile Day

On any regular day, you do not have to tell me to say cheese or smile for any reason. Although my kids would say I am the serious parent while my husband is the silly one, I am sillier than most people know. Even when I am angry, upset, or hurt, I somehow end up laughing at something, and my attitude changes.

So, I thought to myself, why not write about World Smile Day? However, I quickly realized it is more than just saying cheese and flashing a big smile.

World Smile Day began in 1999 when Harvey Ball, the creator of the smiley face, felt as if the over-commercialization of the smiley face took away its true meaning. Ball was a commercial artist that created the smiley face to represent goodwill and good cheer in 1963. World Smile Day was first held in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts but has since been celebrated worldwide on the first Friday in October every year.

Why is it about more than just a smile?

The initial meaning of the smiley face and why Ball started World Smile Day was to promote goodwill and good cheer. Simple, right? Yes, it is as long as we truly understand what goodwill and good cheer mean. If you search for the meaning of “goodwill,” you will find it means friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude. “Good cheer” is a shout of encouragement, praise, or joy.

How many times have we smiled at someone and just given them a half-smile because we accidentally made eye contact or just maybe genuinely gave a kind smile? Think how much more that smile would mean if we added some goodwill with it—offering a smile and goodwill towards a struggling mom who is shopping with her children (who may not be on their best behavior that day). Sometimes I smile, and I say to her, “I understand; I have three of my own. It’s okay.” Then add in some good cheer by saying to her, “You got this, mommy. It will get better”.

It doesn’t have to be a mom; it can be anyone. Smile, then tell them they look nice or that they have a beautiful smile. It’s more than just the smile.

It’s the attitude and actions of encouragement that come with the smile that makes it a celebration of World Smile Day.

You can also consider it, what some call, paying it forward or, as stated on the World Smile webpage, “An Act of Kindness to help someone smile.” Offer to help someone to make something a little easier for them. Reach out to someone that you know is going through a rough time.

Just do a little something to make someone else smile.

I always tell this story because, to this day, it makes me feel so grateful for being willing to offer goodwill and good cheer. It reminds me of a moment I will never forget. I had dinner with a good friend, and we had an amazing waitress. We laughed, smiled, and talked with her throughout the dinner as she served us.  I felt the need to give her a big tip but only had a $100 bill.

Now I had to really pray and think about this. After a quick bathroom prayer, I gave the young lady the $100. She began to cry and say how she had been having a hard time while she was here and that the $100 would help her get home to her family.

WOW, just WOW!

I thought I was doing something extra to make her smile. But I felt just as much joy as she did, so it made me smile too!

World Smile Day is more than just saying cheese and flashing a smile. It’s a day of giving to others to make them smile and maybe change their life’s path in a positive way.

Go out today and make someone smile!

And in return, add a smile to your own face and add a little bit of joy with it.


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