NewDirection Life Coaching

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First World Problems

A couple of years ago, while complaining about something on social media, a high school classmate of mine made a comment that was very profound. He simple commented, “First world problems.”

That very simple statement gave me an instant reality check. I remember it quite often, and even share the comment with others who have momentarily lost perspective of how truly blessed they are.

I couldn’t tell you what it was I had been going on about, but I can give you a very recent example…

Last Friday, according to the electric company, our house (or backyard, or somewhere very close by) took a lightning strike. We lost the upstairs AC, garage door opener, big screen TV, Wii, internet router, direct TV, printer, Amazon Firestick, the porch refrigerator and our kitchen refrigerator. It was a little overwhelming, and frustrating, to say the least. The refrigerator was the biggest expense and the most inconvenient, and I felt like crying.

Then, “First world problems” ran through my mind.

Oh how TRUE that is. Everything I just mentioned is a luxury. Yes, you could say the refrigerator is a necessity, but think about it. There are people in the world who don’t even have a refrigerator! When I remembered to count my blessings instead of getting upset about our losses (which we will eventually be able to replace), it really put things into perspective for me.

We have a roof over our heads, lights, running water and non-perishable food in the house.

• Homeless World Cup says: As many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing in 2015.
• A 2015 Washington Post article says: Around the world, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity.
• The Water Project says: 783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water worldwide.
• Answers.com says: Only 17% of the world population own a refrigerator
• World Hunger says: about 795 million people suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016

Those statistics are staggering, saddening, humbling, and extremely eye opening.

Was the lightning strike at our house an inconvenience? Sure it was. Was it life altering, or devastating? Nope. It is a bump in the road for us. In the grand scheme of life, it’s really no big deal.

How many times have you become extremely upset over something that may seem like a major issue at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, is really no big deal? Probably many, go ahead, you can admit it. You can even get upset about it, in the moment. However, if you stop and think “First world problems,” you’ll realize that, even in the circumstance you find yourself, there is something that you can count as a blessing.

When you put things in the proper perspective, you can look at it and say, “Yup, first world problems.” Take a deep breath and smile.

*Pam Horton is a certified Stress Management coach in the Raleigh area.*

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