By Trilby Goouch
My housemate and I did an experiment; to document every time we encountered a problem, be it a fleeting thought or outright statement. We documented our problems onto a t-chart, one side labelled “legitimate problem” and the other a “first world problem.” So what possessed us to do it?
We were at Starbucks last week when we were informed that our Starbucks rewards no longer included free flavour shots. As regular flavour shot users, we were both a little rattled by this new information … suddenly we’d have to pay a whole extra 50 cents per coffee! The Baristas told us they’d gotten some nasty reactions from customers; people were genuinely angry. That’s when my friend turned to us and mockingly said “first world problems!”
At the moment we all laughed but then it started to sink in. Jokes aside albeit shamefully, we were guilty of complaining about “first world problems.” This led us to thinking … perhaps we had the potential to appreciate a lot more in our lives. So we began our three-day experiment and though it makes me cringe to look at it, the list has given us a well-needed wakeup call; stop complaining and start appreciating. Here were some of our observations that I think a lot of you will relate to.
The majority of our problems fell onto the “first world problems” side of our charts. Our main problems ironically stemmed from abilities or opportunities that we are fortunate to have; for example, working my part-time shift that I was lucky enough to get hired for or having to wait 25 minutes in line at Metro to get groceries.
Tasks like having to workout or sit down for an hour to do finance problems were common on the list. We both noticed the angst caused over having poutine late Friday night, or going out for dinner and devouring an entire pizza. The list gave me a newfound sense of appreciation; for my physical health, my access to food, my ability to spend money on small luxuries like a Starbucks latte and my access to an education. It was like having a weight lifted off my chest; as the old adage goes, things are never so bad they couldn’t be worse.
For most of us, something like this comes naturally. It’s easy to blame something on society, the media, but that doesn’t mean we can’t become more aware and conscious of our thinking. I find it’s one of those things that thought I am aware of #firstworldproblems, I’ve never been one to catch myself in the act…until now. It’s this recognition of its existence that truly allows us to gain a sense of appreciation.
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