Our Legitimate First World Problems
We sometimes think dismissively of the things that trouble us, and label them as ‘First World problems’. To us they can seem like trivial concerns, especially compared to the problems that we know that people face in the Third World. However, in doing so we might be doing ourselves a disservice.
Third World problems
It’s certainly true that people in the Third World have problems that are much more severe and quite different from those we have in the First World. The Third World is visited by disease, war, displacement, poverty, early death and destruction of families. These sorts of catastrophic problems are ones that we rarely if ever have to face ourselves; and yet we can get so overwhelmed by the things that do trouble us.
In contrast, our First World problems include poor university marks, the end of a relationship and being overlooked for promotion. These things seem to pale in comparison when we compare them to problems in the Third World, and we feel guilty for feeling bad for such seemingly trivial things. This guilt paralyses us.
You live in the First World
We need to keep in mind that we live in the First World, and if we continue to, all we can expect to experience are First World problems. It’s appropriate that we react with feeling to things that happen to us – we do get affected by them. You will experience moods and emotions – that's just part of being human.
From this we can take the idea that emotional experiences are relative – if our world is disrupted, our opportunities are cut back or we lose someone we love, we will suffer. In this, we are all same.
If we need help, get it. Then help others.
It doesn’t help us to feel we shouldn’t suffer for what happens to us; and it doesn’t help the Third World either. It’s far better, then, that we recognise that we need help (even for our First World problems) and get that help. From that position of strength we can then extend our generosity to others in need.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about Vulnerability and The Paradox of Defence.
– Tim Hill
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