Who can look at a "Happy Face" and not smile? After all these years, and after seeing it time and time again, we still love its little yellow face. Over the years, many variations have appeared - from the original yellow face to various colors, shapes and expressions.
Have you ever wondered where the Smiley Face came from? Contrary to popular belief, the happy face was not invented by Forrest Gump! It turns out that the original happy face was created in 1963 by Harvey R. Ball, who was a freelance artist in Worcester, Massachusetts. He never copyrighted the iconic symbol and this has resulted in its being in the public domain and it has been used and modified over the years. It continues to be the international symbol of goodwill.
As his Happy Face grew in popularity, Harvey Ball became concerned about its over-commercialization. He developed the idea of devoting one day a year to smiles and declared the first Friday of October to be World Smile Day. He used his Happy Face as the World Smile Day symbol. That day would be dedicated to smiling at people and performing acts of kindness. The first World Smile Day was held in 1999. The theme that year, and every year since, has been “Do an Act of Kindness. Help One Person Smile”.
Harvey Ball believed that everyone has the ability to make a positive difference in the world and he understood the power of a smile and of kindness. He knew that any effort to improve the world, not matter how small a gesture, was worthwhile.
After Harvey passed away in 2001, the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was formed and it continues as the official sponsor of World Smile Day. This day has been celebrated every year in many locations around the world, but nowhere is it more celebrated than in Harvey’s home town. On that day, The Foundation hand-delivers “You’ve Been Smiled” certificates to residents of Worcester who have been nominated by others. The Foundation has now developed a site from which you can send an electronic “You’ve Been Smiled” certificate to anyone in the world. You can also download a free copy of “The Smiley Face Song”! The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation also targets special projects as the need arises. For example, after the tsunami in Japan, the foundation created a special smiley face logo to place on t-shirts and other items, with all proceeds going to relief efforts in Japan.
Who would have ever thought that the smiley face would still be so popular fifty years after its creation? I guess people just like having a reason to be happy and to smile. After the long COVID spring we have endured, we could all use a little Happy Face to cheer us up.