One thing that I’ve been doing more has been intentionally practicing gratitude. Each morning or evening, I set time aside to think about what I’m grateful for and why I’m grateful for it.
I’ve tried to be consistent with this habit before, and it never stuck - until recently when I started making the act a more purposeful and joyful one. I’ll share more about this later on in this post.
I’m grateful for a lot of things - for wellness, the weather, friends, family and the list goes on. It wasn’t until recently that one evening, I wrote down, “I’m grateful for my hearing loss.” I didn’t quite plan to write it down, but there it was on paper. I was surprised that I wrote this because it is the opposite of what a lot of people would put down - why would I be grateful for something that is often considered a detriment in today’s society?
The next thing I thought was, “why am I grateful for this?” and then I put my pen to paper again. The answers both surprised me and made me smile at the same time. Some of my reasons were:
- It taught me to truly appreciate the gift of sound.
- It taught me to marvel at how hearing technology has improved by leaps and bounds.
- It taught me to embrace differences in the world and in other people rather than to shun or judge them.
- It gave me an entire community of people that I never would have otherwise known.
Being intentional about practicing gratitude led me to really develop a newfound appreciation for my hearing loss, and the gifts that came with it.
When I get frustrated at my lack of hearing, and some of the barriers I face, I just remember this list, and remind myself that this frustration is temporary, and that while it’s okay to feel frustrated, it’s also important to make sure not to hold onto the frustration and to let it fester into something worse.
Practicing gratitude about my hearing loss also had me reflecting on how much hearing technology has advanced, and while I’m always eagerly looking forward to what the next advancement in hearing technology brings, I’m also very grateful to what my current hearing technology offers me. One big example is that it completely transformed the way I listen to music. It made me understand how people can develop a deep and profound love for music - something that I didn’t have when I was younger, and that I’m developing more of now.
All that aside, one thing I’ve noticed about intentionally practicing gratitude and being consistent with that habit is that being grateful for what I have now can open pathways to something more in the future. It also pulls me back into the present moment, and instead of constantly searching for the ‘next better thing’, I’m also recognizing what is right in front of me, and appreciating it that much more.
If you’re not grateful for what you have now, how will you be grateful for whatever comes next?
Journal Prompts - Practicing Gratitude for Your Disability
Below are some prompts that I’ve used to help me practice gratitude about my disability. You can do each prompt and build off the last one, or choose any prompts that resonate with you the most. If you’re comfortable with sharing your answers, share them in the comment section below!
- Prompt 1 - What are one to three things that you’re grateful for about your disability?
- Prompt 2 - Why are you grateful for each thing about your disability?
- Prompt 3 - What is one way that your disability has made something better?
- Prompt 4 - If you can say one affirmation about yourself that puts your disability in a positive light, what would it be?
How To Intentionally Practice Gratitude
Moments of gratitude tend of be fleeting - it’s a moment in your day where you suddenly feel immense gratitude for something - whether it’s really enjoying that feeling of having that first sip of coffee or tea in the morning, or whether it’s really appreciating the presence of a friend at that moment in time, or whether it’s soaking up the sunshine after a long period of rain.
That feeling of gratitude just pops up, and as quick as it came, it also disappears just as fast. There’s no doubt though, that it happened, and you might think about it later on that day, or never think about it again!
When you intentionally practice gratitude, you take those fleeting moments and solidify them a bit more until you’re more consciously aware of them.
So, how do you do that?
You do that by intentionally practicing gratitude at any given point in your day - it could be in the morning, it could be at night or it could be midday - whatever works best for you. To intentionally practice gratitude and to be consistent with it, you need to: determine the ‘why’ behind your desire to practice gratitude and figure out how to make practicing gratitude an act of joy.
Determining the ‘why’ behind practicing gratitude
Ask yourself, ‘why do I want to practice gratitude?’ Knowing the why is an extra motivational boost that reminds you the importance of doing the act itself, and also reminds you exactly what the purpose of the act is for you. Your ‘why’ could be anything! Some examples of why you might want to practice gratitude could be:
- reminding yourself of the simple joys of everyday life.
- to not take what is good in your life for granted.
- adding a spark of happiness at the beginning, middle or the end of your day.
- determining what truly makes you happy and to make sure you keep doing those things.
Making the act of practicing gratitude one of joy
Sometimes, starting a new habit feels a lot like something you need to check off a list of things to do - but if you make the act a joyful one, it becomes a more mindful practice that you look forward to doing, rather than a thing to check off a list.
Some ways you can do that are:
- You can pair the act with something you normally love doing. For example, I love making my morning coffee, and pouring it into a cute mug. Now, I make my morning coffee, get cozy on my bed, and also take the time to practice gratitude.
- Set up your space in a way that soothes you. This could be cleaning up your desk space, lighting a scented candle, and writing by candlelight.
I’m excited to see what other moments resonate with me as I continue the practice of writing down what I’m grateful for, and I hope that it’s the same for you!