World Smile Day is celebrated annually on the first Friday in October. Before we suggest how you can celebrate World Smile Day, let’s learn a little about the origins of this day. Since 1999, World Smile Day has been recognized as a day to encourage people to smile more often. But long before there was another effort to put smiles on the faces of people everywhere.
Thirty+ Years Earlier
Predating the commemoration of a day to smile, was the creation of the symbol that marks the day — the smiley face.
In 1963, Harvey Ball, a commercial artist employed by State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (now Hanover Insurance) was commissioned to create a symbol that would raise company morale. He created the smiley face in ten minutes and was paid only $45.00 for his design. The familiar yellow circle, with smaller black dots for eyes and a crescent-shaped mouth, became the symbol of cheerfulness, joy, and goodwill for the Massachusetts insurance company. But it didn’t stop there.
The use of the smiley face increased in popularity, becoming a universal symbol understood by all. With the introduction of computers, the symbol went “electronic” with a plain text, smiley-face emoticon. Easily created by typing a colon and a right parenthesis, and sometimes with a dash for a nose, 🙂 or 🙂 , the symbol became a popular way to express emotion in online copy and emails.
A perennial favorite, the smiley face returned to its original form in 1995. With the introduction of emojis (small digital images or icons used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication) the yellow smiley face could now be shared worldwide. Today, the round yellow emoji face does more than just smile:
Surprisingly, the simple smiley is not the most popular emoji — at least not on Facebook. In July 2018, Facebook ranked emoji use and gave the following rankings¹
The Birth of a Day to Smile
Held annually since 1999, World Smile Day® is celebrated on the first Friday of the month of October. The day is sponsored by the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, a foundation created after Ball’s death in 2001 to honor his name and his memory — and to encourage more smiley faces in our world. The foundation’s goal is, “to make as many people as possible aware of World Smile Day® by using the web, social media, and your help to encourage smiles and acts of kindness around the world.”
So What’s in a Smile?
A lot! As Christians, we understand that a smile can reveal the emotions of one’s soul and the thoughts in one’s mind. What we experience on the inside becomes evident on the outside. When things are going well, troubles are few, and we’re at peace, we smile. Conversely the same is true. When life is difficult, trials are challenging, pain is oppressive, circumstances are discouraging, more often than not our faces tell the story. However, we should always remember that we always have a choice.
In Psalm 42, the psalmist lamented, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?”
We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt discouraged or overwhelmed. We’ve all worn the frowny face instead of the smiley face . But the psalmist continued with a conscious choice — a choice to remember what is true and the One who is faithful. He chose to speak to his soul from the knowledge he had and he told himself, “hope thou in God.” Our hope is proven. It is constant and enduring. It is sufficient. Why? How? Because our hope is Jesus.
The psalmist spoke, with the knowledge he had of his God and determinedly said, “I shall yet praise Him,” and knowing his God, he proclaimed Him to be “the health of my countenance.” (Psalm 42:11) As Christians, we can have that same determined confidence in the Hope that we know to be true. Jesus has promised that He will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5) and that He has given us the Holy Spirit to teach, direct, and strengthen us (John 14:26, John 16:13, Eph 3:16) Remembering those things will change “the health of our countenance” and put a smile on our faces regardless of the circumstances and regardless of the day.
How to Celebrate “World Smile Day”?
It’s really very simple. Share a smile with someone today. If you feel like smiling, praise the Lord. If you don’t feel like smiling, trust the Lord and smile anyway! As Christians, we always have something to smile about.
To make it easy to share a smile, we’re offering you several “smile” greetings. Post them on Facebook, tweet them on Twitter, share them to Instagram, or text or email these smiles. When you do, use it as an opportunity to share the reason for your smile. Always be ready to share your faith and put a true smile on the face of others (TRACTS below).
Borrowing words from the ever-popular song, His Eye is on the Sparrow:
I smile because I’m happy, I smile because I’m free,
For the Lord’s eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
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