Do you know what happens on every first Friday in October? No, not Halloween – it’s too early for that. Christmas? No, it’s much too early for that.
Finding an answer to this question is impossible, because, you know, many things happen on every first Friday in October. However, we know what it is, and we’ll help you:
It’s the day we celebrate World Smile Day.
Ever heard of it?
Started in 1999, this unofficial annual holiday was started by Harvey Ball, the unknown artist, and creator of a very well-known Smiley Face. Ball first drew his iconic Smiley back in 1963, when he got the idea for a World Smile Day; a celebration of the human being, the human being in a better world, a world full of happiness, positivity, and smiles.
In 2001, after Harvey Ball died, the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was set up to carry on Ball’s legacy. They are also the official sponsor of World Smile Day.
This year, it takes place on October 6th.
Ask yourself this: how difficult is it for you to smile nowadays? How often do you do it? Is it an honest smile, from-the-heart laughter, one that doubles you down and makes you weak and gasping for air?
In a world as hectic as that of today, bombarded and assailed and assaulted with endless information, input, and choice, 21st century men and women are under more stress than ever. It is this ruthless and frenzied and schizophrenic pace of life that calls, nay, begs for celebrations such as World Smile Day.
And thanks to Harvey Ball and his foundation, we got it.
Why is World Smile Day important?
It is because we’ve forgotten how to smile.
Naturally, this statement shouldn’t be taken as a definitive representation of all mankind, or as an axiom that teeters and abounds with eternal truth. It is, however, a personal observation of many people that even more people today will agree with. It has become more difficult to smile. Again, as noted before, the pace of life for the average modern man or woman is much faster than 20, 30, or 50 years ago. Access to information has given us a chance to do wonderful, brilliant things, but has also made us susceptible to an information overload. A reverse sensory deprivation, if you will.
More choices, more opportunities for employment (local, international, freelance, etc.) are a good thing. Social media, again, a good thing. But put the two together, as you watch others live lives that you dream of, that you think and feel and now suddenly know you have to live, puts a tremendous amount of pressure on an individual.
World Smile Day teaches us to stop. It teaches us to sit back, look up at the sky, and smell the roses. It teaches us to take things in stride, to relax, to fight back at the merciless grind with a stoicism of our elders. Throughout the world, World Smile Day is fighting to keep our spirits up.
In Worcester, Massachusetts (Ball’s birthplace, a gorgeous quaint little town, definitely worth a visit if you’re ever up there), a big celebration is held every year. It includes activities such as hot air ballooning, sidewalk chalk activities, as well as the drawing of the world’s largest smiley face. World Smile Day is celebrated in other parts of the world as well. Throughout the Americas, Europe and certain parts of Asia, each year as much as a million people participate in the festivities. It is a beautiful way for people to relax, have fun, and reconnect with nature.
Here are 5 quick tips on what to do this year for World Smile Day.
The first and most obvious thing, smile. Spread joy to others around you, and, consequently, to yourself. Nothing heals the soul and spirit as much as a full, honest smile. You know how scientists say that smiling and laughter increase life expectancy? It’s true. Smiling is known to release endorphins, happiness hormones, and happiness hormones are known to increase, well, happiness.
Second, smile some more. Don’t you find it astonishing to see how many sad, long, droopy faces can be seen running around the streets every single day? Don’t be one of them. And also, help them. Smiling and laughing helps other people around you to smile and laugh too. Ever seen one of those videos on YouTube, where one person starts laughing and then all of a sudden the entire metro car or bus is laughing too?
Third, spend World Smile Day out in nature. Go for a hike in the woods or a camping trip with your family. Why, you don’t even have to go that far, for a park or lawn in the city will do just as well. Spending some time away from the city will increase your general happiness levels, make you smile, and will most likely let you take that smile with you back home – and spread it around.
Fourth, join a World Smile Day event near you. If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area that organizes these types of things, by all means, do participate. It will be a wonderful chance for you to break your usual routine and try out something new. And, not only will you be trying something new, you will have fun and smile doing it.
Fifth, send out a bunch of funny cards to make people laugh. That’s the whole point – to make people laugh. You don’t have to write a Norman Mailer, a Charles Bukowski, or even a John Fante letter, just make the recipient happy.
This short list concludes our take on World Smile Day. We hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that you’ll perhaps participate in World Smile Day this year. As you now know, you don’t have to do anything drastic…