Thank You

The term “First World Problems” is used a lot. While it probably isn’t as popular to mention as it was a few years ago, I still find it to be a humorous and relative term.

For example, I have a pretty old cell phone. I’m pretty cheap when it comes to technology, so when I went to the all-powerful people at AT&T to upgrade to my current phone about a year and a half ago, it was already a (free) older model. Now for the first year or so, the phone was fantastic. It had all the features I not only didn’t know I wanted but also things I didn’t know I needed. Fast-forward to the present and that same phone is now on its last leg: it doesn’t hold a charge very well, has multiple cosmetic scratches, runs like molasses, and is obsolete in comparison to the new Galaxy or iPhone.

I now complain about the same “dumb” phone that has also brought me a lot of good memories and served me well. It’s helped me maintain a 3000+ mile LDR, saved me from being stranded in cities I had never set foot in, allowed me to keep up with current internet trends, kept boredom at bay seemingly 24/7 and been my vessel to hundreds of dollars worth of internet shopping.  To paraphrase a very well-known comedian, we have these phones which are amazing and…we hate them. It seems like all we hear about is how much this thing sucks and how much better (enter person here) has a better version.

It seems like no one ever says “wow! Look what my phone can do!” It’s mostly talk about how our current one is terrible now (even though it really isn’t) and metaphorically salivating when we see shiny new ads from Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and “Brand X.” I chose my phone as an example because it’s easy to relate to. Most of us have a cell phone with us right now that can do seemingly anything on a whim. Want to find out what Kanye’s new shoes look like? Done. Need to see where that restaurant is? Done. Trying to promote your new company? Done. Want to communicate with someone on the other side of the globe instantly? Done!

With all the amazing things we are exposed to every day, it’s made us jaded. Truth be told, there is a sense of entitlement like never before. It doesn’t just stay with cell phones. We are so used to life either going the way we want, or expecting it to get better quickly that when it doesn’t it’s all we can focus on. Ever raged at your phone or gotten angry because your text didn’t go through? Or because you can’t get Wi-Fi where you’re at? Ever gotten angry at your dog because it wouldn’t stop barking? Ever gotten angry with a sibling because they did something that infringed on your plans? Ever been so caught up in something that went wrong it just ruins the rest of your day?

I’d like to think that me, you, and everyone we know has been upset at some point over something that in retrospect wasn’t really that big of a deal. Yes, we obviously all get angry or sad about different things but why do those have to be the defining emotions associated with problems?

What about gratitude?

That’s right, folks, gratitude! Appreciation! Humility! Now before you write me off as being fake and just trying to pretend life’s always peaches and cream, just give me a second to explain.

When’s the last time you actually admitted to yourself that the phone in your pocket or purse or wherever is pretty cool?

Now if you’ve done this, then great! How often does this happen? How often do you just take a second to appreciate all of the really cool things that take place in your day or that you have access to? Have you tried putting yourself in the past and imagining how useful or positive your phone, car, job, technology, or current situation are in regards to the past? Not even in the past, but in the present time just at a slightly different location?

I apologize for the excessive use of rhetorical questions, but admit it: as “slow” as your phone is, it’s still really cool and very helpful. No, your car may not be the best, but have you tried the bus lately? Yeah, suddenly having a 2007 Corolla is better than waiting for hours at bus stops. I understand it is difficult you might have lost a job, but in other countries people are being killed by governments. Do you live in constant fear of having bombs dropped on you? Are you a slave with no human rights?  How horrible is the barista messing up your drink order in comparison to dying of malnourishment in a desert?

Okay, I admit it: these are all pretty extreme examples. But they are all relevant ones to take into account. The “first world problems” that most of us deal with every day are really nothing we should get mad about. Be happy you can call your friends instantly (even on an old cell phone). Take into account that others may be in a worse situation. Just acknowledge it and say “thank you” more often. We don’t say it enough and definitely don’t appreciate enough the good in life. So next time your phone is acting up, take a deep breath, remind yourself that life is still pretty great, and just wait a couple moments. I’m sure your followers can live without your selfie for two more minutes.