Have you heard the phrase “first world problems”? I was late to learn about this very interesting phenomenon, but I immediately adopted the terminology. If you’ve not heard the expression, let me update you. We often use the phrase ‘third world’ as a description of poor, underdeveloped countries where the people who live there lack adequate food, clean water and shelter. Those are serious problems! But first world problems sound more like whining, as in “My boss gave me a two-week trip to Jamaica, but I really want to go to Italy.” Really, that’s too bad. I had a personal crisis just this week when my computer crashed and I lost all 2,000 contacts. I kept telling myself it was a first world problem, but I still was devastated! I used to tell my kids to ‘snap out of it’ when they were complaining about not getting their way, but I think that this comparison of how others live around the world is a better illustration that would have helped them think outside of their privileged world.
As we age, we can so easily become complainers about the aging process. I’ve said to my friends, “Listen to us. All we are talking about is our infirmities – doctor’s appointments, cataracts, wrinkles, knee replacements and how much fiber we need to eat!” These are first world problems. We need to be counting our blessings! We are so privileged to grow old; not everyone gets to do that. Our healthcare system, healthy food and life choices allow us to extend our days of life. Adults in third world countries have a life expectancy of about 55 years. Would you trade? Instead of complaining about having to turn on the heat in the winter, or being ten pounds overweight, or having a colonoscopy, let’s rejoice that we have heat, that we have food (too much), that and modern medical science can save our lives from things that killed people just a few years ago! Don’t forget: we have no first world problems! Join the conversation on Facebook at Just Now Old Enough.
Connie Mason Michaelis is a lifestyle consultant at www.justnowoldenough.com.