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Keep Smiling!

A welcoming smile brightens just about everyone’s day.  Even when things are not going particularly well, an unexpected smile, bestowed by either an associate or stranger, can turn everything around.

But is it possible for a smiley face image to achieve similar results?

Well, it seems the resounding answer is, “yes!”  Hence, in honor of World Smile Day taking place in early October, let’s briefly look at this icon’s origins.

In 1963, Harvey Ball, a commercial artist and Worcester native, created the smiley face image for Worcester State Life Insurance to boost workplace spirits.  The artist apparently understood the positive influence a smile can make and fashioned the yellow, one dark eye larger than the other, wide smile portrayal to heighten morale while a company merger was taking place.  As a freelancer, Ball was paid $45 for his work.   The jolly representation was used, and it even became quite popular in the company newsletter.

By the mid 1960’s, the smiley face began to attract mass appeal.  Ball did not copy write the image, but it did appear on assorted products, such as lapel buttons.  An executive from Seattle and two business owners from Philadelphia tweaked the likeness, each slightly differently.  They used the modified representations as their own and made considerably profits off the portrayals.

Nonetheless, time has shown Worcester’s Harvey Ball to be the real creator of the internationally celebrated smiley face.  In 1999, Ball founded The World Smile Corporation: the company’s, mission is committed to “good cheer and good works.”  A fundamental motto is, “Do an act of kindness–help one person smile.”  The corporation manages World Smile Day.

Harvey Ball passed away in 2001 at age 79.  Shortly after, The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was established to honor a man who spread kindness through a simple yet powerful image.  The non-profit charitable trust supports children’s causes and is run by Ball’s son, Charles.  The foundation is a major sponsor of World Smile Day.

Okay, so smiling is free, yet the gift it bequeaths can be invaluable.  And, it appears people in assorted countries agree that a whimsical yellow smiley face has the ability to lift an individual’s state of mind.  In a world sometimes colored with unpleasantries, isn’t that a refreshing thing to know!

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