The Smiley Wall — A Cheap Way to Bring Much-Needed Happiness

Who knew a simple wall could be a bundle of joy for everyone

Danny Forest
Nov 13, 2020 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
The smileys I’m using on my wall. Background photo credit: Lidya Nada on Unsplash

hen the global pandemic was officially announced in March 2020, I was in Cuba writing a book. The thing is, I had cut all communications just so I could concentrate on writing, so I didn’t really know what was going on.

In Cuba, there wasn’t any panic when it was announced. It was as if it never really happened. People kept sipping their margaritas by the beach or the pool, oblivious to what was happening in the rest of the world.

I only learned about it because an older couple I had met mentioned it. But I had no idea how dire the situation really was. What made it real for me was that they told me that schools were closed.

“If they’re closing schools for that, it must be damn serious!” I thought.

Society relies heavily on schools, and so when schools don’t operate, it can only create chaos. That was my thinking, and I turned out to be right. I decided to cut my trip short and fly back to see if there was any way I could help out.

The airport in Cuba felt normal, but the one in Montreal was a ghost town. Apart from the people on our flight back, I think there wasn’t anyone else at the airport. It was the strangest feeling to be alone at an airport.

I arrived back home and had to quarantine home for 14 days. The issue was, I had no food nor supplies. I used to go get groceries every day, so I never had anything. Delivery services were not ready for this to happen.

To top that off, I couldn’t be with my pregnant wife because I could have been contaminated, so she stayed at her aunt’s place. No food, no supplies, and all alone in my apartment.

Talk about a grim situation!

The Smiley Wall 😃

I rearranged my home office just for kicks. I found a “card” game I had played only a few times laying around. The game involves a bunch of smiley face “cards”.

I figured we wouldn’t play it any time soon, so I decided to stick them all on the wall behind me so I’d see it every time before sitting down. I didn’t want to put them in front of me because I thought it would be too distracting. It turns out, in my back was exactly where it needed to be. It was obvious in hindsight.

With the pandemic forcing many people to work from home, most of the meetings started happening on video calls from people’s homes. Whereas the gold standard background for video calls used to be a white wall or a bookcase, now it was whatever was in the back of the person’s improvised home office. It turns out, my background was a wall full of smiley faces.

The result?

I put a smile on everyone’s face as soon as we started the conversation. I don’t think I’ve seen a single person not comment positively about it. It was also a great way to kickstart the conversation with people I had not yet met.

At a time when everyone’s morale was low, my wall brought people happiness. Who knew a wall could do that!

A crying baby’s solace

If that wasn’t enough of a good reason for me to have made this wall, I’ve accidentally found another. My son’s favourite hobby is to cry (like many babies). Sometimes, those cries don’t go away when you take care of his basic needs. He wants more. Mommy’s and daddy’s arms sometimes are not enough.

Baby wants smileys!

I’m not even joking.

Every time I bring baby Nate into my office, his face immediately turns to my Smiley Wall 😃. He coos, smiles, and moves and arms and legs excitedly. It makes me laugh every time. I often joke that I’ll make all my walls a Smiley Wall 😃. He wouldn’t cry for no reason anymore now, would he?


My accidental Smiley Wall 😃 made strangers, friends, family, and colleagues happy during grim times. It’s a bundle of joy and a great conversation starter. Truly, I never expected that rearranging my office would be my greatest idea coming back from Cuba after the global pandemic was announced.

Now I recommend everyone to make one. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s a great morale booster. Let your walls bring you and your loved ones happiness!


— Danny
For more insightful stories, check out!

Bonus: How to make your own Smiley Wall 😃

Using the same game I used

If you live in Canada, you can buy a few copies of the game on Amazon. I have not seen it sold anywhere else, unfortunately.

Using VectorStock and a printer

Doing a simple query, I was able to get very original smileys on VectorStock. You can purchase a full collection for $1. From there, you can print them and cut them out. Be sure to have a lot of yellow ink!

Using stickers

You can try these smaller ones, these bigger ones, or find others in your local craft store if it’s still opened.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Danny Forest

Written by <- my new home. I don’t write on Medium anymore.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Danny Forest

Written by <- my new home. I don’t write on Medium anymore.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store