In 1963, a freelance artist in Worcester, MA was paid $240 to draw a smile campaign to boost morale for company employees. Harvey Ball was unsatisfied with his first drawing of a smile, but after adding two eyes, the smiley face he created has lasted through time and is still used today.
As the years passed, and the symbol became increasingly used for commercial gain, Harvey was concerned that it would lose its meaning. He declared that the first Friday of every October should be World Smile Day®; a day dedicated to smiling and acts of kindness.
The act of smiling itself goes back far before 1963, and certainly goes far beyond the illustration that Bell created. In most Western cultures, smiling indicates joy and happiness, but this can be mistranslated when visiting countries who do not smile as much. Smiling is an important part of communication, and understanding it’s meaning across the world can help to understand and communicate more effectively in different cultures. Psychology Today discusses that although cultures develop different reactions and reasons to smile, even babies born blind smile as sighted adults do, as observed by Charles Darwin.
In cultures where smiling indicates joy, studies have been conducted into the psychology of smiling, as well as its effects on our bodies. Various studies have revealed that smiling has psychological and physiological effects, through changes in hormones and neurotransmitters. Not only can these effects naturally fight feelings of depression, but endorphins can act as a natural pain killer. Some chemicals released during smiling can even help to reduce heart rate and blood pressure related to stress.
Not only is smiling good for you, but it’s good for others too! Most of us innately mimic the expressions of others as we go about our lives, smiles included. By smiling at others, their mimicry can afford them the same benefits that you experience.
So, take a little time today to smile. If you can, perhaps you could take inspiration from Harvey Bell, and smile whilst engaging in acts of kindness towards others. Here at Get My Grades, we’ll be smiling away, and trying extra hard to spread some joy today 😊