Robert sat there with bright eyes and all his attention on me. He was glad to talk about his hearing loss.
In this Robert is very different to many people as they get older and their previously sharp hearing begins to fade. For many it is a source of embarrassment and they don’t want to talk about it.
But not Robert! He is keen to share. He’s been 80% deaf for many years now and he’s learnt a trick or two as he got used to living in a more silent world.
‘What is the most important thing you have learnt,’ I asked him? With no hesitation he answered, ‘Being Positive. I really work at being positive every day.’
I was fascinated. ‘How do you do that?’ I questioned him. His eyes twinkled as he reeled off the things he does every day to keep him upbeat and fun to be around. He says the quality of his life is even better than it used to be!
Here are Robert’s Top Tips for Being Positive.
1. Take a rest whenever you need to.
Following conversations amongst hearing people is tiring when you are both listening through a hearing aid and lipreading. Recognise that this is the case and don’t be afraid to withdraw from time to time and just let the conversation flow without you until you recharge and join in again.
This also applies to getting good quality sleep. Use your night time rest to really recharge. This can include drinking a warm milky drink or a chamomile tea before bed. Do whatever works for you and sleep the sleep of the just all night so that you wake up refreshed. (Robert winked as he said he likes a glass of red wine before bedtime. Doesn’t do any harm, I’m told!)
2. Watch funny movies!
The old Charlie Chaplin movies where everything is carried in the body language are a great favourite of his. Black and white and silent but still really funny - their humour can make us laugh out loud. There is something about those old gags! It is the same with the Laurel and Hardy movies. See what you can find that makes you chuckle. Cartoons are another visual that can be played with no sound yet have their storyline and jokes very easy to follow.
3. Use affirmations
It is very tempting to withdraw as hearing loss occurs. It can be just too effortful and tiring to keep up, or pretend to understand. According to Robert his daily affirmation is ‘I am having fun today’ and his other one is ‘What will I learn today.’ He says keeping his brain alert is really important and he does that through learning something new every day. Of course, his preference is to make learning fun too. He does this by learning new things along with a friend. They take online courses together and by just getting together for an hour most days to keep up the learning they expand and share knowledge – and laugh a lot as they do it.
Robert says his affirmations every morning as he gets up. And as an extra tip he says to carry a notebook around with you so that you can jot down what you learn; like a journal.
4. Join a club.
This goes along with not withdrawing socially. If you join a local club like the bowling club or the bridge club they are all places where people get together and enjoy the activity together. The great thing for the hard of hearing folk and lipreaders is that everybody just passes fairly standard comments to one another. Comments that are easy to lipread and hard to get wrong! Easy to smile and share a ‘Well done.’ A clap of the hands. A wink. These exchanges aren’t tiring and the social bonhomie is a tonic. As you might guess Robert is a member of the Bowling Club, the Golf Club, the Art Club and the Cricket Club!
5. Carry some photographs around with you!
Carrying photographs with you when you meet up with people is a cunning trick to change the topic of conversation if you have lost the plot! It also changes the pace of the conversation when you are getting tired of following the chatter. Never go out without some photographs you have taken, or photographs of any art or craft you have done. If you feel like a break but want to keep contributing socially bring out the pictures and let the others ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ over them as they look. It will give you a break as well as getting some nice compliments to make you feel good.
6. Linked to this and the joining a club idea is developing a talent or skill.
Now you may say you have no talent for sketching, or dancing or singing… but there will be something you will be able to enjoy once you have mastered a few basic skills – it might be a craft like woodwork, crocheting, a musical instrument, photography… Go onto Udemy.com or Craftsy.com and see what strikes your fancy. From there you can take pictures of your projects and share them with your friends and family. You never know, you may find that people want to order some of your new projects and you earn some pocket money! Robert has started to sell his paintings through a local shop and loves people to talk to him about them.
7. Teaching friends how to help you.
Robert helps people help him. So often people aren’t sure how much the ‘hard of hearing’ friend can follow and start to avoid having conversations because they feel awkward. Robert just comes right out with it! People who tend to cover their mouths with their hands when they speak – or, horror of horrors – grow a moustache! get a gentle tease and a humorous twinkle as he asks them to bring their hands down to their lap or makes the sign of scissors to pretend trimming that moustache. He says they actually feel relieved when he talks about it so openly. Most people want to help – they just don’t know what to do. He says that being kind, funny and honest about his hearing loss makes everyone relax.
8. Love your eyes.
This tip is good for keeping you positive for the long term. As hearing loss increases your eyes become more and more important. You use them to lipread, learn, read books, watch TV, use the computer, drive….. so having them in tip top condition is pretty important. Try using cool damp tea bags to refresh the eyes, try practising looking out to the distance and then focus on something close at hand so that your eye muscles strengthen. Rest too is very important for eye care. Make sure you sit in good light so your eyes aren’t straining and have regular eye tests so that you don’t have to peer when you read or drive. If you have prescription glasses get them checked out every year. Suddenly the world takes on a whole new quality when you have the correct specs!
9. Think positively all the time.
Drop any lingering sense of being sorry for yourself is Robert’s advice. Yes it would be easier if you could still hear a pin drop – but that is not how life is right now. There is one thing for sure if you try to fight life – life will win every time. But what you can do is go with the flow of life in a positive way. Enjoy quiet time, refreshing rests, learning more things than you knew before, sharing fun with friends, trying out new hobbies or skills and being more active in the world in different ways. You find that the world responds to your positivity – it’s really contagious! Go on Spread the Good Stuff.
10. Smile, Smile and Smile Some More
The more you smile and display your fun side the more people will respond positively to you. AND the more you smile the more your body and your unconscious pick up the vibe. This causes your brain to produce more ‘feel good’ endorphins. Interestingly, having more of these floating around in your bloodstream helps to make you a better problem solver. They help our creativity! That’s a great bonus.
It’s all in Your Mind
This can be the stage of your life when you have the most fun you have ever had. It’s all in your mindset. Remember that your mindset is in your control – even if your hearing loss isn’t.
Some days it is inevitable that you will feel down about being deafer than you were and wish that your hearing was as sharp as it used to be. Let yourself acknowledge that you’re sad about the change – and then move on by thinking of your affirmations or things you have enjoyed today. Living in the moment is the best place to be. So, what is your affirmation for today? What are you going to see or do that will make you laugh and feel good right now?