by Bulbul Beri and Dr Reetu
Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

World Smile Day, celebrated on the first Friday in October each year is a day devoted to the spreading of joy and love to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, or geographic location. Artist Harvey Ball created World Smile Day in 1999, out of concern that the over-commercialisation of his smiley face symbol would strip it of its original meaning.

We can take inspiration from this day to remind us to spread smiles and kind acts throughout the world, as part of our daily routine. We do not know of the troubles that others may be facing. A simple smile or small act of kindness can change someone’s day and everything that follows. Be open to the people around you and look for opportunities where a small caring and compassionate gesture by you could add a boost to someone’s day.

Benefits of a Smile

A smile is contagious. When someone smiles at you, your instinct is to smile back, and as the corners of your mouth turn upwards, and your eyes crinkle, your brain signals that you are happy. Your mind doesn’t realise the difference between being happy and acting happy in that moment. Smiling can trick your brain into happiness.

“Sometimes, your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Science shows that smiling causes a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones and increases:

  • oxytocin levels, which can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
  • dopamine, which increases your feelings of happiness.
  • serotonin release, associated with reduced stress. Stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol, which can cause weight gain, disturbed sleep and high blood pressure.

A genuine smile holds you in the moment. When you genuinely smile, your facial muscles begin to relax, your heart rate slows down, and your breath lengthens. A kind smile has created many beautiful moments in my life.

A smile can make you feel welcome, comfortable, appreciated, loved, forgiving, forgiven. I have experienced genuine smiles that have helped diffuse tension, fear, conflict, taken the edge of pain and grief, and been an instigator to allow old rifts and wounds to heal.

An authentic smile will have a ripple effect. Sincerely smiling at someone makes you feel warm and loving towards that person, and you can feel the love coming back to you. They will also smile at someone else because your smile just made them happy, and so on. I have seen many of my smiles passed on to the next person the recipient interacted with, and I have also passed on other’s smiles numerous times.

A simple smile has the power to heal. It’s free, it’s easy, and is a universal way we display happiness. It can communicate a feeling of approval and welcome to the recipient and helps us to connect. It has the power to boost the mood of the sender as well as the recipient.

Since I can’t physically give you a smile, I will leave you with some of my favourite smile quotes to hopefully put a smile on your face; then you can flash your lovely smile over to someone else and make their day.

“A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear.“– Marilyn Monroe

“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.“– Tom Wilson

“I love those who can smile in trouble.”– Leonardo da Vinci

“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.”– Dalai Lama

“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”– Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”– Dr Seuss

“The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back.”– Bryant H. McGill

“Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.” – Chinese Proverb

“Everyone smiles in the same language.”– George Carlin

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”– Mother Teresa

And my favourite:

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”– Phyllis Diller