First World Problems.
The meme has thousands of hashtags, youtube videos and tumblr blogs devoted to first world citizens contemplating the inner turmoil caused by their daily latte taking too long to prepare or troublesome inconsistent wifi networks.
It’s a meme I usually am able to tune it out, but I saw one this weekend that caught my attention:
I’m not the most empathetic person in the world. Nate says that’s because I don’t have feelings. That might be true. But it’s less about my feelings and more about this concept.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
My response to most people who feel stuck is to just change. Stop it. If you’re tired of doing boring things. Do something interesting. If you want to go on an adventure, make it a priority and just go.
It’s not because I don’t care, but there are bigger things to worry about. So many “first world problems” are artificial manufactured drama because the lives led up to that point aren’t satisfactorily interesting enough on their own.
You get to choose.
You always get to choose.
You get to choose if you labor on in the “agony” of your first world problems or you do something bigger.
Instead of creating artificial drama, jump into a real story with real consequences and real drama. Find something hard – something you don’t think you can do.
Then go do it.
You’ll start living a life worth writing about and your wardrobe decisions will get a lot easier.
“It’s hard” is usually enough to stop most people from doing what they want. Feeling “stuck” is usually a good enough excuse to keep most people from doing something. But if you prove it at all, you quickly realize it’s a bad excuse. The best way to get “unstuck” is to gain perspective.
You can do this in a few ways – traveling, pushing yourself, meeting other people – but it’s usually as simple as just doing something. When you do and you realize that billions of people don’t get to worry about having to wait a few extra minutes for their latte, because they’re more concerned with how they’re going to eat, drink clean water or get a basic education – you realize that your problems seem a lot more insignificant (and…consequently…they get a lot easier).
That’s why something as simple as cold shower therapy works. It’s a viceral experience that shows you that most of your hangups are in your head. You break through a little bubble of self-pity, whining and get over yourself.
There are a lot of legitimate problems in the world. The inability to pick out which shirt you’re going to wear in the morning is not one worth worrying about. If you choose to make it one, you’ll live a very small story.
Forget first world problems. Join a bigger story and get after some real world problems that actually matter.
If you’d like to get involved with a genuine real world problem, I know a great cause you can help out with. We’re building a school to help 1,000 kids in Guatemala have access to education.
Donald Miller’s original work One Million Miles is what inspired me to start living a better story, push my limits and start this blog. If you want help living a better story, his followup project Storyline is worth a look.