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Musings on World Smile Day

Who created the iconic Smiley Face, known throughout the world?

Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts, introduced the graphic in 1963. The round, yellow face quickly became known around the world.

By 1999, Mr. Ball decided that the image had been over commercialized and his simple purpose of creating the graphic had been lost. That simple purpose was to make people smile and to pass on smiles.

The outcome of his concern was his suggestion that one day each year be devoted to smiles and random acts of kindness. His rationale for creating such a day was: “The smiley face knows no politics, no geography, no religion. Why not have one day each year to celebrate the way we are alike, not how we are different?”

As a result, the first Friday of October was designated World Smile Day.

It’s possible that the Smiley Face is still over commercialized; but the intent of the day can still move forward. Celebrate World Smile Day by smiling and doing an act of random kindness. How hard can that be?

Some say smiles are lost because of the masks we’ve been wearing for months and months. Others say they’ve become more and more adept at recognizing smiles beaming out from another’s eyes. Some hear the smiles of others in their voices. Smiles still exist and persist in spite of those darn masks. We need to watch and listen for them every day not just on the first Friday of October – that’s October 1 this year of 2021.

So smile – with your mouth, your eyes, your voice. Just smile – and then do that one random act of kindness that will make someone else smile.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Mary Tomlinson SP on October 1, 2021 at 10:44 am

    Denise. Wonderful sentiment. Sending you my smile across the miles. Didn’t know there is an actual history behind the smiley face. Makes smiling ever more meaningful. Have a nice day. Mary

  2. Jeannie Smith on October 1, 2021 at 12:27 pm


  3. Anne Therese Falkenstein, S.P. on October 1, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Over the years, you have often made me/us smile, Denise. Thanks for your post and for being you.

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