Gratitude: Recognizing First World Problems

It’s a common joke to express frustration and then follow it up with “first world problems.” I’m a big fan of this practice because it does allow a release to the block you’re coming up against, while also recognizing a singularly important aspect: it could be so much worse.

I’m in no way making light of anyone’s struggles. When you are in struggle it feels miserable. It feels frightening. All of those really negative emotions rise up to the surface and the best word that comes to mind is uncomfortable. It’s like your life is closing in on you. It,can feel hard to breathe and even impacts your physiological response within your body.

These are very real and I’ve felt them many, many times. The pain is intense. The single thing our brain wants us to do is escape. It’s a survival mechanism and a very valuable one at that. It has gotten you here to this very point in time. What a beautiful thing that is!

However, when we feel that rising up in us because, say, the grocery store doesn’t have our staple items. When we feel uncomfortable because we can’t maintain our basic routine. When we feel frustrated because we told our kids over and over and over again and they still managed to not hear us. We can still have that same fight or flight response mentally and physically.

When we can step back and say, these are first world problems, we can really begin to put our struggle in perspective, but not necessarily downplay it. While the grocery store may not have our usual items, they do have lots of other items available to us. When we might not be able to sit down and eat at a restaurant, we can still get take out or delivery. When our kids are driving us insane, we have people to keep our minds and hearts busy.

I felt like I was going to lose my mind over the yeast shortage. I have baked a loaf of bread with my kids at least weekly for years. It was the first real significant block we came up against because of the pandemic. I wanted to throw a fit, scream, blame, all of the things.

However, once I was able to create space around it, I was able to tap into my inner knowing. We have not had little containers of yeast since the dawn of mankind, the advent of wheat, or the beginnings of bread making. I remembered all of my nutritional studies, and that I actually had an even healthier option available to me: a sourdough starter utilizing wild yeast. My needs are still met, but in a different way. Not only a different way, but an even healthier way for my family.

So when we can create that space around “first world problems,” maybe we can learn how to tap more deeply into our inner knowing as well.

I’ve found that when we create enough space to tap into our inner knowing we are also able to create better outcomes for ourselves and others. We are then able to serve our own needs and the collective’s needs by rooting more deeply into the generosity inherent to our daily lives.

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