First World Problems

Monopoly

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s new album “Mandatory Fun” just became the first comedy album in over 50 years to top the Billboard charts. Buoyed by a viral campaign to release eight videos in eight days, the album’s new videos were watched over 46 million times during the first week of their release.

One of the more interesting songs is entitled “First World Problems”. In it, “Weird Al” parodies the trials of modern life:

  • The angst of missing the breakfast menu because of oversleeping on a weekend.
  • The moral outrage of a barista failing to create an artsy design in latte foam.
  • The unbearable burden of having to brush one’s teeth manually because the electric toothbrush isn’t charged.

What are your “first world problems”? How do you respond when they arise? 

I’ve noticed my own irritation lately with first world problems. My newish iPhone is past its warranty and is virtually impossible to charge because the lightning port is damaged. My car’s air conditioner takes ten to fifteen minutes to kick in. How can I possibly live with such misery and injustice?

Meanwhile, in my county, activists are pushing (against ongoing opposition) for local governments to create a permanent shelter for the homeless. Health Affairs Blog, a public health policy website, estimates that between 7,000 and 17,000 people will die because they live in states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children crowd detention camps along our southern border. Not all problems in this country are “first world problems”.

First world problems narrow my aperture so that my immediate pesky concern becomes my entire universe. In that moment, I can become a self-entitled, raging diva, or I can widen my aperture and let in the light of gratitude. Gratitude shrinks first world problems down to their appropriate size.

My spiritual path tells me to “not worry about your life…but seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6). What does that mean? Isn’t it human nature to worry? Of course, but seek to keep your worries in perspective. What’s the bigger picture here?

Yes, my iPhone isn’t recharging. And I’m also breathing and walking. I had a wonderful dinner last night, have interesting work to do today, have a great partner, and I live in an amazing home nestled in a glorious, sunny valley. I seek first to remember that I’m blessed, I’m loved, and I’m part of a bigger Cause called Life.

Check out “Weird Al” Yankovic’s new video and take a moment to share how you deal with “first world problems”. How do you widen your aperture and regain perspective?

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