May 7 – Great American Grump-Out

Posted on May 7, 2014

On the first Wednesday in May, we are urged to smile more, frown less, and maybe even have fun!

The woman who started the holiday years ago once organized a drive-by smiling. She and some local students stood at an intersection with signs. On the signs, there were no slogans, no complaints – instead, they had giant smiley faces!

Another time Smile Mania members wore clown-noses, blew bubbles at passers-by, and handed out bananas. Why bananas? Because they look like smiles, of course!

This sort of silliness is actually serious. Janice Hathy, founder of Smile Mania, points out that a negative attitude can impact your health and that smiling actually makes you happier.

On the flip side, some psychology professors talk about the tyranny of positivity in the U.S. – they point out that messages that say “Smile – be happy – have a nice day!” can be counter-productive. These messages can make it seem as if there is only one acceptable facial expression – a smile – and only one acceptable feeling – happiness. “If you DON'T feel happy, there's something wrong with you,” these messages seem to say. They maybe even say, “Just fake it!”
Some people view the positive attitude / negative attitude discussion as being political. If we are never supposed to complain, how can anything get better? If we are supposed to smile, are we also supposed to accept things as they are? Even if that means accepting bullying, or racism, or unfairness?

I don't think that Hathy wants people to stop speaking out against unfairness or to accept the unacceptable. Actually, working to right wrongs is a very positive thing to do, isn't it? I believe that accepting a bad situation is the more negative response, as if you cannot believe that things COULD be good!

If you check out the Smile Mania website, you will see that Hathy has used a very silly picture and some pretty funny words, too, to encourage us to give our grumpy side a rest for the day. I am pretty sure that anyone who can come up with clown noses, bubbles and bananas doesn't have a tyrannical bone in her body!

Also on this date:

Brahms's birthday

Tchaikovsky's birthday

Anniversary of the world premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

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