Monday, 7 October 2013

First World Problems

Recently, a friend of mine, Shadeh, moved to Croatia.

I say ‘a friend’, but what I really mean is one of the most inspiring people I have ever had the privilege to meet. And I say ‘meet’, but really I mean that I was lucky enough to share a house, too many laughs to remember and too many unforgettable chats with her.

Now, for some time I’ve believed that you can learn something from everyone, and that you should never underestimate this. It doesn’t matter how old they are either. This friend is a good ten years younger than me, but has a wiser, kinder, more positive head on her shoulders than almost anyone I’ve encountered.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m sure I’m going to mention this person over time, and I intend to pass on some of the things we discussed, and some of the thoughts I’ve developed as a result. I don’t wish to preach, but if just one person reads this and thinks “Hmmm, interesting thought”, well then that’d be just grand.

So I’ll start with this one: First World Problems.

I regularly work long hours, and I’d often come home tired and just a little grumpy. Sometimes I’d complain about something that in the scheme of things really wasn’t that important…and Shadeh would simply laugh and say “first world problems!”

You may know this concept, or you may not. Others may be like me - you’ve heard it said, but you’ve never really thought about what it means. Basically, it’s a kick up the bum to remember how lucky we are, and how good most of us have it. Most of the ‘problems’ we have are just mildly annoying, and somewhere in the world there is someone (if not a million other people) who would give anything to have this as their only concern.

And do you know what? Slowly, I started to catch myself saying it as I was about to complain about something. And then I’d think, “Ah, maybe things are not so bad!” Next I’d find myself saying it to others when they complained about their own problems. Probably to their great annoyance, but whatever.

So maybe, just maybe, next time you or someone near you complains about something, you know, really terrible such as “the water from the cold filter tap tastes funny”, “my hotel room isn’t big enough” or “the sandwich lady didn’t bring a big enough variety”, maybe you’ll think of those three small words. Maybe you’ll think of those less fortunate than us.

Or maybe you’ll just think, “I read something boring about this in a blog once. Ah well, looks like I’m going to have to have a cheese and pickle baguette for two days running”.

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