True Happiness: Chinese Inspired by Homeless Man Called Mr. Smiley

    The photo that made Mr. Smiley famous in China, showing him enjoying the fireworks and drinking a discarded bottle of iced tea. (Weibo.com)Mr. Smiley was satisfied with his life. (Screenshot/China News)Mr. Smiley moves onto the next city. (Weibo.com)Mr. Smiley found freedom living on the streets. (Weibo.com)Journalists helped Mr. Smiley visit his hometown; he got his hair cut and had a shave before seeing his family. (Screenshots/China News)

    A homeless man nicknamed Mr. Smiley has been touching the hearts of bloggers in China.

    He first came to fame while passing through Henan Province during the 2012 Lantern Festival, when he was photographed by a journalist just as he looked up at the fireworks with a beautiful smile.

    The image became well-known in China, after it was forwarded on Sina Weibo nearly 70,000 times in one day with around 15,000 comments about the meaning of happiness, like these:

    • “Happiness in life is equal.”
    • “Rich people having a great feast aren’t necessarily happier than a homeless man getting a half bottle of iced tea and watching fireworks.”
    • “Under the moon and fireworks in the sky, all smiles are equal.”

    The man left his home in Shangdong Province at 17, wandering from city to city, including Lhasa in Tibet. After his photo became famous, some journalists helped him go back to his hometown, but his story didn’t end there.

    Mr. Smiley left home again and went back to Zhengzhou, turning down further offers of help. He said he was satisfied with his life; he had enjoyed plenty of freedom, and gotten used to it.

    Netizens were sad to learn last week that Mr. Smiley died recently, after he fell off a building, the Dahe News reported. Many wrote farewell messages, and lit a virtual candle for him. Here are some of their comments:

    • “May you have a better life when you reincarnate.”
    • “Wishing you a happy life in paradise. Everyone has the right to be happy.”
    • “Thank you for the warm smile.”
    • “Crying…I shall help the homeless in the city.”
    • “Please keep smiling in paradise, where poverty and hunger don’t exist.”
    The photo that made Mr. Smiley famous in China, showing him enjoying the fireworks and drinking a discarded bottle of iced tea. (Weibo.com)

    The photo that made Mr. Smiley famous in China, showing him enjoying the fireworks and drinking a discarded bottle of iced tea. (Weibo.com)

    Mr. Smiley found freedom living on the streets. (Weibo.com)

    Mr. Smiley found freedom living on the streets. (Weibo.com)

    Mr. Smiley moves onto the next city. (Weibo.com)

    Mr. Smiley moves onto the next city. (Weibo.com)

    Mr. Smiley was satisfied with his life. (Screenshot/China News)

    Mr. Smiley was satisfied with his life. (Screenshot/China News)

    Journalists helped Mr. Smiley visit his hometown; he got his hair cut and had a shave before seeing his family. (Screenshots/China News)

    Journalists helped Mr. Smiley visit his hometown; he got his hair cut and had a shave before seeing his family. (Screenshots/China News)

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