World Smile Day, held this year on Friday, Oct. 3, is an easy and fun opportunity to celebrate workplace happiness and learn more about the everyday power of smiling.
WORKPLACE HAPPINESS BEGINS WITH A SMILE
World Smile Day has its origins in 1963 when commercial artist Harvey Ball created the smiley face to boost employee morale at an insurance agency in Worcester, Mass.
Ball’s happy yellow “smiley” has since become an iconic symbol of happiness and goodwill around the world. Ball thought everyone should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts, and – in 1999 – declared the first Friday in October World Smile Day.
“The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion. Harvey’s idea was that for at least one day each year, neither should we,” explains the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, founded after Ball’s death in 2001.
The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation has a wealth of information and resources for anyone who wants to help organize World Smile Day celebrations. Spread workplace happiness any of the following ways on World Smile Day:
- Be a World Smile Day Ambassador. Download posters and stickers to get people grinning all day long.
- Follow World Smile Day on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates from around the world. Tag company photos, selfies and tweets with #worldsmileday to join in.
- Create an event to celebrate World Smile Day, such as a sing-along, pie-eating contest, sidewalk chalk art show, balloon release or treasure hunt.
- Organize an activity that everyone can participate in on World Smile Day. The Foundation suggests visiting a nursing home, putting together a smiley-face flashmob, hosting a fun event at a hospital, delivering meals to the elderly or volunteering in a soup kitchen or food pantry.
- Pass out “smile certificates” with a small gift to spread cheer among employees or customers.
[Tweet “”Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” -Marilyn Monroe”]
Marilyn Monroe knows what she’s talking about! Hard science backs up all our feel-good notions about smiling, it turns out.
In fact, adages like “grin and bear it” or “just put on a happy face” are actually good advice for happier living and, in turn, for building workplace happiness.
Smithsonian Magazine reports, in the article “Simply Smiling Can Actually Reduce Stress,” that among study participants even a fake smile worked to lower heart rate. The study differentiated between participants who assumed a neutral expression, a fake smile and a genuine smile (aka the Duchenne smile, or a smile that involves contraction of the muscles by the eyes).
“As a whole, the smilers had lower heart rates while recovering from the stressful tasks than those who had assumed neutral expressions, and those with Duchenne smiles had lower heart rates yet,” writes Smithsonian.com’s Joseph Stromberg.
For an in-depth and accessible review of the considerable scientific research on smiling and happiness, check out the HowStuffWorks article “Does smiling make you happy?”
Even if your company doesn’t have the time or resources this year for a coordinated celebration of World Smile Day, don’t worry. It may just be one of the easiest holidays ever to celebrate: all you have to do is smile at someone.
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