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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

3 Words that May Save Your Life

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 23rd 2010


The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, and John and Meredith felt like moving their dancing feet. As they were letting loose, Meredith slipped and fell. A thought shot through her mind that it was strange that she lost balance, but quickly got back up and after assuring John she was fine, they kept dancing. Luckily John was a neurologist and knew something didn’t seem right and so he took a step back and asked Meredith to do 3 things that saved her life.

 He asked her to perform as simple acronym S.O.S:


  • Smile – If the person has not just suffered a stroke this should be no problem to do. However, if there is any brain injury, there may be a crooked smile.

  • Open/Reach – Usually opening both arms wide and raising them to the sky shouldn’t be a problem. If someone has suffered a stroke, one arm may start coming down or be disabled.  

  • Speech – We speak simple sentences all the time, but a stroke victim may have slurred speech or confuse the wording. A sentence like, “What beautiful weather we have today” may not be as coherent.


While I’m not trying to promote being a hypochondriac, the fact is, better safe than sorry.

It’s easy to overlook symptoms in our lives because we just don’t want to face the idea that there could be something wrong with us. We have a major fear of illness and death in our culture that operates on a subconscious level. In other words, we’re not even aware that we’re unaware.

So, just keep this acronym S.O.S in your back pocket, Smile, Open/Reach and Speech, it might just save your life or the life of someone you love.

In the meantime, why not recognize how precious life truly is and if there is something that is important to you that you’ve been putting off for a while, what would happen if you put it at the top of your to-do list.

Is there someone you’ve been meaning to call, is there something that you’ve wanted to learn, is there a book or a song in you?

As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom that we may all benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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