I think most people have a strong desire to change the world even though they might not know how to yet. They do not know in what shape or form this can be accomplished. They just want to make a big difference. Ever since I was a young child, I knew one thing with absolute clarity: I wanted to help people. I dreamed that one day I would win the Nobel Peace Prize for helping starving children in Africa. One day I would join the Peace Corps and teach English to children in Africa, Asia, or Eastern Europe in an old fire-heated shack. Needless to say, these dreams have not come true. I think the problem is that my dreams were too big and far too grandiose. 

But did you know that there is one foolproof way that we can change the world? We do not have to spend millions of dollars or travel to a third world country. It is something that we are born with. Fetuses do this even in their mother’s womb. Newborn babies use this as a survival and instinctive reflex. All it takes is a couple of facial muscles and maybe one second of your time.

We can change the world by smiling.

Smiling is something that we have done from even before birth. But today, due to the chaos and stress of everyday life, this is something that does not happen very much. Go take a walk through the aisles at Wal Mart or Publix, or on St. George Street in Downtown St. Augustine. Count how many people you see with a smile. Most people are just too focused on adulting, work, kids, and family to take a moment and just smile.

Smiling is probably the single most important thing that any person can do. Smiling is known to enhance relationships and mood, relieve stress and pain, and lengthen your lifespan. Plus, smiling just makes you feel good. Haven’t you ever had someone randomly smile at you? How does that make you feel? I do not know about you, but I always feel loved, respected, and validated. This is even more important in a world in which we can feel so alone. It is more important than ever that we smile at people, even random strangers. Sometimes it can seem as if we are alone, but we are not alone. And smiling helps to break down that barrier. Plus smiling really does feel good.

Smiling feels good.

Because it makes us feel good, we need to spread this happiness and joy to others. We need to go take a walk through downtown St. Augustine, at the St. Augustine Outlet Malls, or at any of our beautiful parks. When we see someone, anyone, we need to smile at them. We need to smile when they are having a good day. We especially need to smile when they are having a bad day. We need to just take a chance and smile at a random stranger, hoping that it will brighten their day. Because it will.

Sometimes we may not be able to do something to help people to change their lives for the better. But there is one that we can do and that is smile. A smile does not cost anything and only takes about a second of your time. It can change an entire world for someone because of its ability to give people hope. Hope is, I think, the strongest arsenal we have to combat the hate that we so often see in this world. By smiling, by giving hope, we are being kind. We are showing people that they are not alone, no matter how bad a day they are having. We are showing people that kindness does exist in this world.

October 5, 2018, is World Smile Day, which is a day that is centered around the infamous 🙂 emoji. The emoji was designed by Harvey Ball with the intent to spread happiness and kindness around the world. Starting in 1999, however, World Smile Day was born as an international holiday. Its aim is to encourage people to not only smile but to do something kind.

Today, I challenge YOU, the reader, to do three things:

1. Smile.
2. Be Kind.
3. Share.

Let us know what kind of thing you did to celebrate World Smile Day! #worldsmileday