How A Gratitude Journal Helps Me Manage My Hearing Loss
Living with hearing loss can be incredibly frustrating. You might miss the joke at a social gathering and stand staring while everyone else laughs or you may try to enjoy a dinner out at a restaurant, but the background noise blocks out the voices you want to hear. Sometimes your friends and family are supportive, but other times they wave off your requests for a repeat with the dreaded “never mind.” Your hearing aids are wonderful in certain situations, but not in all. There can be a lot to complain about.
But what if expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of our life could help deflect some of the frustrations we live with every day because of our hearing issues? Many research studies suggest that gratitude can help enrich your life through increased patience, better sleep, improved health, higher self-esteem and more resilience. And the benefits are long lasting. It seemed worth a try.
List three things to be grateful for every day
Experts recommend a variety of options for expressing gratitude including writing "thank you" letters to important people in your life or sending daily emails to friends to thank them for something they have done to help you. For simplicity, I decided to keep a daily gratitude journal where each night before bed I would list three things that I was grateful for that day. I promised myself that each entry would include three original items—repeating was cheating.
I downloaded an app and got started. At first it felt awkward. I stared blankly at the blinking cursor hovering under the prompt "I am grateful for...,” wondering why I could not think of one thing to write. But soon it became fun. When something good happened during the day—even a small moment like catching a cute baby's eye in the elevator and sharing a smile—I locked it away into my memory so I could list it later.
Over time, I started looking for things to be grateful for. I stopped to watch the sunset and took more notice of a pretty flower in the garden. This may become difficult to do as the weather turns colder, but hopefully I can find other moments to take their place.
Collect small moments that bring a smile to your face
Some days are hard. Yesterday it was raining, my friend cancelled our scheduled lunch and I could not hear the checkout person at the store, creating a hassle for me and the long line of people behind me, but I forced myself to identify three things to appreciate. I can almost always find something worth noting from my yoga practice, or an interaction on my blog or through my other hearing loss advocacy work.
I have begun adding photos from my phone's camera role to memorialize certain events, turning the gratitude journal into a mini diary. It is fun to periodically look back through the entries to see the highlights of previous days or weeks. Revisiting these large and small moments has a compounding effect that almost always brings a smile to my face.
Experts say it takes 21 days to see any impact from a gratitude practice. I have been journaling daily for about 6 weeks and I like it. I still get frustrated and angry and impatient about my hearing loss, but at least once a day I force myself to look at the other aspects of my life and find solace.
It is probably too early to tell if this practice will have a lasting positive impact, but at a minimum, it has shown me that despite the challenges of living with hearing loss, there are many aspects of my life for which I am profoundly grateful.