What Makes You Smile?

What makes you smile?

This is a thought provoking question that I often use when starting off a group with my patients to generate discussion.

Yesterday, was a bitter sweet day for me. In the midst of some triumphs, I also felt despair.

One of my patients attempted suicide and the family called to tell me that he was in a hospital. I monitor this patient very closely. I was shocked by his act of desperation.

This is not the first time, but, it was the first time that he made a suicidal gesture while working with me. I didn’t see it coming…….

I came home, sad and upset.

In general, I try not to bring my work home with me or discuss what happens during my day with my family. Yaffa, who is not able to understand what I do, sensed how I was feeling. She tried to cheer me up.

While we were eating, she signed to me: “I love you, Mommy.” And, then, she batted her eyes and gave me a big kiss and hug.

If that wasn’t enough, it was how she signed “I love you” that was particularly endearing.

In sign language, there are several ways to sign “I love you.” One is to finger spell each word:


Another is with the hands, with the thumb, pointer and pinkie raised.


A third way is to sign each individual word “I” “love” and “you.”


What Yaffa did, which was particularly adorable, was sign “I” “heart” “you.”


It is the equivalent of a play on words and similar to making a pun.

So, not only was she saying “I love you” she was trying to make me laugh.

And, it worked! I felt so touched by her sensitivity and support. Her intuition and emotional intelligence astounds me.

So, what makes me smile?

Yaffa makes me smile.