I’m a people watcher. Not a creepy voyeur or anything; I just love watching people’s reactions. This past weekend, I accompanied my husband to an international sculpture show where his work was exhibited. One of his latest sculptures is a large, lazy rabbit, lying there fully relaxed with just one eye opened—earning him the title “Rise and Shine.” He should have been named “The Smile Maker” because no one could look at him without smiling.
Hundreds of people passed by the array of sculptures on display. Some wandered idly while others appeared to be on a mission, and some were in their element surrounded by beautiful art while others seemed harried or even overwhelmed by the crowd. But one constant I found was that each person would smile when they looked at our little gray friend. Some would comment, many would stop and pet the rabbit, but all would smile. I witnessed some of the grouchiest-looking curmudgeons break into a smile when they saw the rabbit’s unexpected expression.
Watching all these people reminded me that we need to create these little “smile makers” in healthcare settings to help soothe and even distract our patients from their worries, even if just for a moment. Art has long been embraced as an important element of the healing experience. I encourage you to look around your environment with fresh eyes. Look past the standard magazines and the flat-screen TV and remember to plan for the little smile makers. When you do, you’ll be giving people a little reprieve from their problems—and that’s just good medicine.