Jaden Hayes, six, is collecting smiles.
Just two years ago, Jaden was faced with tragedy: his father passed away. And then earlier this month, his mother "put him to bed — but she never woke up. She died unexpectedly," WSBTV reports.
But despite such sadness, Jaden's managed to find happiness — and he wants us to find it too.
“I was getting him ready for bed, tucking him in, and he says ‘Auntie, I’m so tired of everybody with frowny faces. We need to make people smile,” Jaden's aunt Barbara DiCola told the news station.
So Jaden, determined to make people smile, decided to buy toys and candy to hand out to residents in Savannah, Georgia.
So far, he's managed to nearly 300 smiles out of strangers, who may not have been smiling before, in just two days.
And Jaden may not even understand how much good spreading smiles can do...
According to Eric Savitz's 2011 article on Forbes, "The Untapped Power Of Smiling," humans are instinctively a smiling species. Moreover, the power of the smile is capable of changing social situations for the better, and it's even gives a more positive reward than — yes — chocolate.
Charles Darwin, who in addition to theorizing on evolution inThe Origin of the Species, also developed the Facial Feedback Response Theory, which suggests that the act of smiling actually makes us feel better (rather than smiling being merely a result of feeling good).
Evidently, Jaden is proof of such power. “Everyone said, ‘How’s he going to handle it?’ Well, he showed us,” DiCola said.
And now, the Smile Project (#thesmileexperiment) has over 100 posts on Instagram.
"This young man has been through so much and lost so much in his life and he's worried about making other people smile. It's his joy. It makes him happy," DiCola added.