October 13, 2020

A Smile Brings Joy

Seo Hui-jeong from Daejeon, Korea

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One day, I had dizziness. Feeling my whole body weak, I even had nausea. As I am well-built and had not lost strength or appetite before, I was worried about these sudden symptoms. After hesitating a little bit, I went to the hospital.

The hospital was where my father had been treated before. The doctor said that I didn’t really need to worry about my symptoms. Then unexpectedly, he asked if my father was doing well, remembering that I had come as my father’s guardian. He also asked if my father would go out often. He advised me to make him laugh a lot to prevent depression that might occur if he stays only at home because he’s so quiet.

The doctor’s words pricked at my conscience because I hadn’t thought about making my father laugh till then. From that day on, I thought over how to make my father laugh as the doctor asked. The “mirror neuron” that I came to know by chance was a great help. Human brain has a neuron that mirrors another person’s facial expression or behavior, so when you look at the other person’s smile, you too come to smile. So I thought that if I laughed first, my father would also laugh naturally.

Since then, I practiced smiling before I knocked on my father’s room. One day, I approached him first and asked how he was feeling. He began to say the same old story as he used to. Whenever he told me the story, I listened to him absent-mindedly. This time, however, I didn’t find it hard to pay attention to him probably because I’d decided to make him laugh. Reminded that he wanted to write an autobiography, I even wrote his words one by one. As a result, I came to have more questions to ask him and felt rewarded to get closer to him.

After I enjoyed the conversation with my father, I wanted to record it in an audio file. So I asked him again how he was feeling, being ready to record. My father said, “It was the first time you talked to me with a bright smile. I felt so good that I kept speaking. I could even remember what I had forgotten.” At his remark, I was very sorry to him as if my past attitude of hearing his story reluctantly was exposed.

Now I feel like I’ve finally stood before my 87-year-old father as his real daughter. I came to know belatedly that I could please my parents just by facing them with a smile. Now I’m very thankful that my parents’ faces have brightened up and I too feel like I’m getting healthy. From now on, I will smile at everyone and share joy together.

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