This is by far my favorite t-shirt out of the many amazing shirts from PAL Campaign. You might ask, “How can you have a favorite shirt if they’re all amazing?” This particular shirt strikes me in a way that is hard to explain. It might be the way green letters pop out so vividly on the soft cotton t-shirt, or the way people can’t help but smile when they read it aloud, or the weird look then immediate smile when strangers see the shirt for the first time. In any case, whatever mood I’m in, whatever mood others were in before, the shirt results in ridiculous smiles on people’s faces.
I teach Sunday school at my home parish and recently started to enjoy teaching elementary students. The kids must have noticed it because a kindergarten kid (not one of my students) approached me and said, “Why are you always smiling?” This struck me as an odd question because this kid would always ask me to do ridiculous things like, “Open your mouth, let me see your Bluetooth.” My immediate response to this was, “Why are YOU always smiling?” A great answer, I know. Answer a question with a question. I got this kid good, I thought, then he answered, “I don’t know, because you’re always smiling.”
I pondered on this for quite some time and thought about what it meant. I told this story to Joe, PAL CEO, and he told me about an interesting article on Forbes titled, “The Untapped Power of Smiling”. Ron Gutman, the author of the article, explored the power of the smile and found studies of smiles being able to predict: how long lasting individual’s marriages would be, how high individuals would score on standardized tests of well-being and happiness, and how inspiring they would be to others. The research showed that the widest smilers consistently ranked highest in all of the categories. Another study found that players that smiled on their baseball cards had a longer average life span than those that didn’t.
A smile is a universal language among all human beings, no matter what race, gender, or religion. The smile is a universal icebreaker amongst humans all over the world. The way someone smiles can tell a lot about how someone is doing at that particular moment. Have you ever smiled at a stranger and received an emotion in return? Whether it be a strange look, blank stare, smirk, or laugh, you felt something about how that person is doing at that exact moment. Maybe that’s why smiles are contagious– they let others know you’re happy, and thus that makes them feel happy. Maybe that’s why the kid is always smiling around me because I seem to always be smiling around him.
A majority of people smile between 5-20 times a day while children can smile up to 400 times per day. Studies in the UK found that a single smile can generate the same amount of brain stimulation that 2,000 chocolate bars or 16,000 Pounds Sterling ($25,000) can, which means a person can feel like a million bucks just by smiling a certain number a times a day. We can learn a lot through the eyes of children. Open your mouth and show off your Bluetooth. Smile and cause chain reactions. Smile at someone to make them feel better and receive a smile back to make yourself feel better. Smile even bigger and receive a warmer, more genuine smile back. Exercise your right to be happy and don’t let your smiles be wasted. Stimulate your brain. Feel like a million bucks. Melt the ice of unhappiness and Make Smile Happen.