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What Does The Smile Project Mean To You?: Three Community Members Reflect in Honor of Joy Day 2023

On November 9, 2011, I posted a Facebook status. “Day 1: Happiness is.. those perfect car rides where the radio just plays all the right songs.” I didn’t think too terribly much of it. But I also didn’t stop posting. This November 9th (2023) will mark 12 full years of daily joy and will kick off our 13th birthday as an organization. Before I get into my own reflections, I wanted to ask a few community members what The Smile Project means to them. Their insights follow.

Rebecca F. has been recording her own daily joy since February 10, 2021. In fact, this week Rebecca will write her 1,000th “Happiness is.” When asked to reflect, she wrote: I've followed The Smile Project for a few years now but over 2 years ago I became an Ambassador. Day 1 for me was all enthusiasm about joining this lovely community. What I've found over the last 900+ days is that honoring happiness as a collective amplifies joy and builds connections. "Happiness is.." come in all shapes and sizes and are as individual and universal as we are!

Next, we talked to Zack Shively. Some of you may remember Zack as the marketing and logistics director from the #SmileProjectRoadTrip back in the summer of 2018. He reflects:

The Smile Project provides a consistent daily reminder that there is always joy and good in our day. On most days, that's a nice, simple reminder. On tough days, it lifts me. Now, I'm doing my best to try to find my daily bits of happiness and appreciate them as they materialize. It's shifted my perspective on how I go about my days, and also helped me realize the things I value in life.

Personally, The Smile Project gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to see something I always try to keep in mind—people want to help and do good, all over the nation. Through the roadtrip, I went to cities and sites I never thought I would, but the connections we made along the way are what I think about all the time… people helping their communities in the ways that they are uniquely equipped to do so.

And finally, a few words from Alli Dingman. Alli is one of the founding ambassadors and has been recording her daily joy since December 19, 2019. She was also deeply involved with the Slippery Rock University SPARK Club during her time as a student and served on the executive board.

She wrote, “The Smile Project is... my savior. When I started recording daily Happiness, I was not always in the best place in mind. Doing this reminded me that there are things to be happy about even when your day doesn't seem like it's going all that well. Every day after school, I come home and tell my boyfriend about my day teaching. There are lots of days where it feels like I have only bad things to share but I always try to end on a positive note about something, even the smallest little things that put a smile on my face that day. And that makes the biggest difference on how I view my day. I have had so many changes since the start of my time recording daily Happiness years ago. This has been the one thing that has been consistent through it all.”



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