A smile, such a simple gesture. We do it all the time. It’s a universal gesture that is known all over the world, in every culture on the planet. It’s something that happens on our faces that connects us with other people. It’s an indication of joy, peace, happiness, and contentment. But the great thing about a smile, is it really does light up one’s soul. Our faces, our body language give others a glimpse of what we’re experiencing on the inside.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor, the joy in my job comes in those moments of simple smiles. I’m often faced with much sadness from clients when they first step into my counseling office. Their body language often says it all. I see shrunken shoulders, downward looks, distress in the forehead and an overall tone of pessimism in their voice and in the words they use to describe their suffering.
If the counseling process goes as I hope it does, an amazing thing begins to happen. It starts first when I see a twinkle in their eye; a small glimpse into their soul and what’s ahead for them. Hope begins to be renewed. And then, I start to hear a change in their overall tone. Negative words begin to be replaced with more hopeful words. But an amazing thing happens when we really start to make change in the counseling process, a simple smile. Some may call it a grin. Often it may be accompanied with a small giggle. These grins become more and more frequent. I also start to notice a change in their body language. Their shoulders are more upright, their eyes start to meet mine more regularly, and just an appearance of confidence reemerges.
My greatest joy as a counselor comes though when it becomes a full smile. You know what I’m referring to, the smile that some say is from ear-to-ear. It’s an indication that their heart has begun to heal. It is truly a sign that they are healing from the pain they felt when they came into my office for the first time. When the smile becomes more frequent then I know they are truly being set free from their suffering.
Seemingly such a simple thing, a smile. But really it’s not, it’s a very complex part of being human. A complicated process that explains our inner most workings as a human. An indication of our deepest thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Never take a smile for granted. Embrace them, notice them on others, allow them to connect you with another soul. And most importantly, allow a smile to replenish your soul as you experience all that life has to offer.