As individuals dedicated to the emotional well being of our clients, I am always surprised when I come across a mental health professional who has seemed to have lost the muscle strength to smile. Clearly, smiling is not appropriate all the time. I have learned this the hard way as I have often found myself smiling in situations where my colleagues have had to kick or elbow me under that table, but controlling smiling is for another post.
Smiling is contagious. Smiling illustrates joy, being proud, acceptance and can be comforting. Smiling does so much.
For school guidance counselors, as you walk the halls of your schools, pick up a student from the classroom, give a presentation to parents or just spend a few minutes with with a group of students between classes, smiling can give our students that little extra boost they need to get through a long hard day. For therapists in private practice, as you welcome a client into your office, walk them out or when you are listening to them discuss their week, smiling is reassuring, shows you are listening and illustrates you are human. In fact, telling a joke or listening to one and laughing out loud with your client doesn’t hurt either. Of course if you are new to smiling, start with a few smirks before you jump into a full belly laugh. You don’t want to pull a muscle.
I came across this TED talk about “The Hidden Power of Smiling” and recommend you spend the seven minutes to watch it. It is fantastic.