“A simple smile, that’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others” said by Dalai Lama, the renowned spiritual leader. Obviously, a simple smile on face can create wonders; even from a sickbed to a dreaded, raging warfront. The course of history might have been different, if there was a place for an innocent smile in some infamous negotiations. Because it has a miraculous power to conciliate one’s enemy. Smile is a sprout that can be grown to a laughter plant, deep rooted in the hearts of every man. It makes humans distinct from any other creature of the earth. Sometimes a smile can be the elixir of life. There lies the significance of celebrating World Smile Day.
Story of Iconic Smiley Face
Every year, the very first Friday of October is observed as the World Smile Day with an objective to spread smiles in and around for happiness in life. Since 1999, World Smile Day became official to inspire every act of kindness. There is a fascinating story behind smile day which commences with one of the most iconic symbols that the world had ever seen. In 1963, Harvey Ball, a commercial graphic artist from Massachusetts created the most popular ‘smiley face symbol’ with an intent of good cheer. By doing so Harvey wanted to bring a lot of joy and get connected with human beings with a smile.
Harvey started his own business firm ‘Harvey Ball Advertising’ in 1959. Later, he was employed as a freelance graphic artist of The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts in the US. In 1963, he was committed with the responsibility to find a longing solution for low employee morale in the firm. So, he came up with the idea of a simple but sensational, world changing ‘Smiley Face’. It was a simple circle with two black dots and an upturned curve signifies a pure, genuine smile. Yellow face, also a sign of cheerfulness. Hundreds of smiley pins were handed over to employees. The smiley face played a praiseworthy role in the company’s friendship campaign and its simplicity brought about a smile on the faces of executives that paved the way for its prime motive to fulfill. Though Harvey was paid only $45 for this unique creation, its popularity exploded over and above all expectations. Still, Ball never earned a copyright or trademark for his work.
Happiness Symbol to A Sensational Tool
The work had been politicized since 1970s. Smiley faces were widely used in cartoons, comics, political movements and so on. The symbol was commercialized in so many ways including clothing, pins, coffee mugs, comics books and more. It appeared in movies and graphic novels. The smiley buttons became popular worldwide and more than 50 million smiley pins had sold out by 1971. It was called ‘sourire’ in France and ‘peace love mark’ in Japan. More and more recreations with minute as well as detailed variations were happened, some of them lost the natural, aesthetic feel of Harvey’s real one. Harvey ball smiley face was unique by its three distinguishing features; narrow oval eyes, a bright yellow face and an imperfect curve for mouth. Some claimed that the upturned, imperfect curve of the smiley symbol resembles the mouth of ‘Mona Lisa’, the same world known portrait of Leonardo da Vinci famous for its unique enigmatic smile. After 1990s, with the expansion of internet, the smiley faces were glorified to an emoji status with wide popularity. Harvey Ball founded a non-profit charitable trust to hold up children in 1999, namely World Smile Foundation with the motto, “Enhancing this world, one smile”. Since then, it began to organize World Smile Day dedicated to “good cheer and good works”. Harvey Ball passed away in 2001, leaving behind a great smiley message for the world.
Social Significance of a Smile
“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile” words by a great comic actor, director and composer; Charlie Chaplin the man who set aside his entire life for the happiness of the whole world. As he says, a compassionate smile has enormous benefits in life. Smile is the best way of recognition that can be given to a person. It improves one’s confidence and may ascend to a state of self-satisfaction. A good morning smile from colleagues gives a better working atmosphere and improves performance efficiency. Energy and enthusiasm offered by a simple smile from every home is also vital for life. It eludes a lot of negative thoughts from my mind. Smile is exceptionally beneficial to facial muscles so that it can sustain the state of youth and beauty to a greater extent. Nowadays ‘smile yoga’ is practiced extensively with this intention. Researchers says, the healing capacity of smile has a great potential to improve the immunity power and life expectancy. At present the entire world faces an unprecedented ordeal and everyone is striving arduously to get over from the petrified shadows of the pandemic. Besides the physical ailments; recurring lockdowns, curfews and restricted social mingling give rise to mental stress, tautness, anxiety and more. Relevance of smile is noteworthy in this recent phenomenon as it is likely to be a good medication for physical and mental stresses, hypertension, blood pressure etc.
Smile: An Effective Choice in Recent Scenario
As per the estimates of World Health Organization, 2020; more than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide. Adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 marks the highest rate of depressive disorders. Postpartum depression statistics also share some shocking facts that about 70 to 80 percent of women experience ‘baby blues’ after childbirth. According to a recent study, ever since the Covid 19 outbreak clutched India over a year back; 43 percent of Indians suffer from depression as a result of rising stress levels. Smiling is not an absolute solution for all these conundrums. But a smile can be a desirable and effective choice to attenuate the adverse effects of these conditions. Sometimes a compassionate smile can speak louder than words and its sound may be echoed in the hearts.
Everyone can make a change in the smile day, considering a person with a simple smile may give a momentary boost for his or her whole day. Keep your heart and eyes open, be caring and compassionate to the people around you, spread a smile through your lips and connect your hearts. As the proverb says, use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile. In short, World Smile Day is an opportunity to brighten the world with a compassionate smile and make the world a better place.
By KEERTHI S, Kollam, Kerala