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Here is a word that most people don’t associate with hearing loss: JOY

As we embark on a new year, self-reflection is more prevalent. This year I have spent thinking about joy and how it related to audiology, this practice, and my patients. Many of my friends and colleagues know that I started Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte because I lost my love of practicing audiology in a place where my time was micromanaged and I couldn’t provide care in a way I felt best served my patients. This change brought the joy back.

Perspective

Everything we experience is about perspective. For a person with hearing loss, the big word they notice is “loss”. How is that joyful?! Changing the perspective from hearing loss to the advances in technology and aural rehabilitation can bring more joy than dwelling on what is missing. Some of my patients find joy in that they hear better in certain environments using their hearing aid accessories than their friends with normal hearing do. Others find joy in taking out their hearing aids to have quiet time when the grandchildren are jumping off the walls and screaming. It’s all about perspective.

Humor

Having a sense of humor and being able to laugh at yourself and situations you find yourself in increase joy. How can you not be joyful when laughing? This applies to mishearing certain words, finding out you agreed to something you didn’t mean to because you nodded like you heard the question, and – once you are able to hear better – finally getting the joke with everyone else.

Acceptance

Acceptance is another way to bring joy to your life. Accepting that your hearing has changed and that using hearing aids is the new normal creates peace. It reduces frustration and enhances communication with friends and family. Using hearing aids is often just as much, if not more, for the loved ones of the person with hearing loss.

Gratitude

Around the holidays we talk a lot about gratitude, but gratitude can be experienced every day. Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains “Gratitude means embracing reality. It means moving from counting your burdens to counting your blessings.” Having more gratitude for the hearing you have and the options that are available to improve your hearing the more joy you will find in experiencing everyday sounds.

Compassion

Compassion is something we often think of as giving to others, but self-compassion is just as important. Instead of being angry at your body, your genetics, your job or behaviors that may have contributed to your hearing loss, accept yourself – with all the strengths and weaknesses your body has. Your hearing is one part of what makes you who you are. Instead of dwelling on the rock concerts, noisy hobbies, or illnesses that may have contributed to your hearing loss show compassion for yourself. Treat yourself with as much compassion as you would have for a loved one. This self-acceptance allows joy to creep in.

 

I look forward to 2018 as a year of embracing joy for myself and helping my patients (and friends) find their joy.

Dr. Melissa Karp

 

For more about joy in general (and not just related to hearing loss), check out this book: http://bookofjoy.org/

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