National Survey Reveals The Top 10 Things Making People Smile Right Now.

little girl laughing while holding an umbrella while it's raining.

Think back: Have you smiled yet today? If so, what made you smile?

In honor of World Smile Day on October 7, Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused nonprofit, commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct a national survey among over 2,000 Americans to pinpoint what in these turbulent times is making people smile. 

Dedicated to acts of kindness and joy, World Smile Day is celebrated the first Friday of every October. The annual event was started by the creator of the smiley face.

“The survey results are refreshing and heart-warming,” said Susannah Schaefer, President and CEO of Smile Train. “They made me smile.”

The Smile Train national survey underscores that, contrary to what some think, money and fame are not the sources of happiness — nor, for that matter, will they guarantee a smile. Instead, a small gesture like “someone smiling at me” ranked high on the list.

Below are the top 10 items that turned the corners of peoples’ mouths upward:

10. A good joke

To start off this list with item number 10 we’d like to ask a question:

How do you organize a space party? … You planet!

Let’s be honest, even a silly dad joke has the power to make people smile! In this survey, 20% of the participants said that a joke was a reason behind their smiles. No surprise there, making people smile is the whole purpose of jokes!

Two men laughing at a joke
koldunova_anna via Adobe Stock

9.  Spending time with your child(ren)/grandchild(ren)  

If one thing is true about children, it is that they bring joy to this world, even when things seem to get dark.

For 21% of participants, spending time with children or grandchildren brought a smile to their faces. And how can this not be? Children are unapologetically themselves, and just hilarious! But more than that, kids have the power to make adults feel refreshed and happy — just because of how awesome they are without even trying.

A grandfather, a grandmother and their grandson strolling through an outdoor environment full of threes, having a good time. The grandparents are lifting the grandson between each holding his hand.
Sanja via Adobe Stock

8. Spending time/communicating with your significant other

Nowadays, most adults live pretty hectic lives. And sometimes, this fast-paced lifestyle makes it a little hard for adults to spend quality time with their significant others. But, on the other hand, it also makes it extra special when they do get to spend time with each other!

There is nothing quite like the feeling of being around the person you love and having a good conversation with them. In this survey, 22% of participants agree! Spending time and communicating with their significant other was the reason behind their smile.

Close up of a woman and man in love sitting on couch two people holding hands.
fizkes via Adobe Stock

7. Someone smiling at you

Ironically, 22% of participants said that what made them smile was… someone smiling at them!

After these results, there is no denying that smiles are contagious — and especially powerful when they come from a completely random stranger.

Girl smiling at stranger on the street
antonioguillem via Adobe Stock

6. A funny video or GIF on social media

Memes, funny videos, and GIFs are the best part of social media (if you ask us). Nowadays, it seems like looking through social media feeds is 90% memes and 10% pictures from our loved ones — but we are not complaining… and neither are the 22% of participants that said that a funny video or GIF on social media is what made them smile.

Happy city girl with phone and headphones on video call while walking relax in the street to work or home.
peopleimages.com via Adobe Stock

5. Good food and/or beverage

We have to admit, good food makes our hearts happy! And the fact that this item made it to this list proves it.

The smells, the colors, the textures, and of course, the flavors of a really good meal are more than enough reasons to make humans smile!

And how about that first sip of coffee in the morning? It’s hard to beat the joy that a cup of coffee (or other preferred beverage) can bring into our lives. Yum!

Pepperoni Pizza with Mozzarella cheese, salami, pepper.
pavel siamionov via Adobe Stock

4. Being healthy

Being in good health can be one of those things that we take for granted until we don’t feel all too well. However, after experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have begun to give health the importance that it deserves and value it more than ever before. In this survey, 29% of participants responded that being healthy made them smile.

“I saw my primary doctor and my blood work was positive,” responded one participant. “I’m still in remission.”

Another participant said: “The ultrasound I received today made me smile.”

We have to agree that the above statements are definitely great reasons to smile!

woman resting on armchair at home
Konstantin Yuganov via Adobe Stock

3. Watching a TV show or movie

Media has the power to make humans feel a variety of emotions. However, nothing compares to watching our favorite TV show or a really good movie, and if these are comedies, smiles are more than likely guaranteed!

There is just something about watching TV after a long day, or on a lazy Saturday morning that makes people smile, and 30% of this survey’s participants are here to confirm just that. Oh, and sometimes it’s not even a show or a movie that makes us smile, it can be something as simple as a commercial!

“I saw a humorous commercial on TV today, and it made me smile,” said one participant.

Woman watching TV at home and holding the remote control.
stokkete via Adobe Stock

2. Being alive!

For 33% of participants, being alive is a good enough reason to smile — and we can’t agree more!

“Every day I wake up is a reason to smile,” said one participant.

There is this saying that says “tomorrow is not guaranteed.” When we remember this, it is almost inevitable to smile every morning when we open our eyes. Just like this other participant said, “it is a joy to be alive!”

Man stretch his hands after waking up in bed at morning with sunlight
thebigland45 via Adobe Stock

1. Nice weather

We’ve made it to the number one item on this list. Ah yes, you can’t beat some nice weather… and 37% of the survey’s participants agree!

While most people agreed that a sunny day was the reason behind their smile, others smiled because it rained.

“We got rain, and a lot of it,” said one participant. “Been so dry for the growing season and for my town, that is unusual.”

The above is great proof that every human has their own definition of “nice weather.” Therefore, it doesn’t matter if nice weather means some beautiful sunshine or a cozy rainy day, when we get out favorite type of weather we feel like we are invincible!

happy girl with rainbow umbrella in autumn park
Stanislaw Mikulski via Adobe Stock

This list just goes to show how more often than not, the “simple” things are what make humans smile. Nothing can compare to the joy of spending time with our partner, eating some yummy food, or simply being able to live another day!

In terms of overall themes that made people smile, entertainment (funny GIFs, movies, etc.) ranked number one, followed by gratitude (like celebrating an accomplishment), and lifestyle (like getting out of debt or being healthy).

At the end of the day, many things can impact our reasons to smile, and the reasons can vary from person to person. However, we can’t deny that even such complex creatures as us humans can find common ground in what makes our hearts happy — and what makes us turn our frown upside down.

Don’t forget to share this list to make your friends smile, too!

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