Making a DIFFERENCE Wishing Well — 08 January 2013
First World Problems?

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I’ve grown up with a privileged life. As an adult those privileges continue to be extended to me. I see the same kind of privilege, if not more so, in some of the students I know. The first time I heard the excuse, “my maid threw out my homework,” and, “I’m late because my driver took the wrong exit,” I just stared at the students, dumbfounded. [Those are real excuses out here in Dubai!] No more of this dog ate my homework business…

Yet despite being surrounded by and living with privilege, everyone is entitled to a bad day now and again. Yet, most of these problems are on a different level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy is a great way to give myself that reminder of what really matters. It is based in Psychology and suggests that unless basic needs such as food and shelter are met, we find it much harder to reach higher levels of success, which is described ultimately as self-actualization. I would argue if my life is privileged, that most of my lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy have been met. If I can sleep and breath and feel safe, really, what else is important?

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Yes of course these higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy are important, note that the full name is Maslow’s Hierarchy of NEEDS. But are they absolutely essential? Must I have an ability to be creative, to be spontaneous and the opportunity to problem solve? I am generally blessed that my problems fall more into the Self-actualization or Esteem categories. Where do you fall in the Hierarchy?

I don’t know who coined the term First World Problems but whenever I start to think about what a “bad” day I’m having, I try to think of that phrase. It makes me smile and reminds me to have some perspective, that whatever my problems are, they are couched in a world of comfort and opportunity for which I am grateful. And it never hurts to remind oneself to be grateful! Some people in my life are practicing gratitude by making a gratitude jar to hold moments and memories of gratitude throughout their new year. I wonder if all of us should practice this?!

A few colleagues at work one day began listing a bunch of First World Problems for a laugh. What can you add to the list? Don’t want to make your own list? Read through the website First World Problems to add laughter to your day.

1) My pedicure smudged as soon as I left the spa.

2) I can’t find parking at the mall.

3) My maid cancelled on me this week.

4) BBM is down!

5) I left my phone charger at home.

6) I’m assigned to a middle seat on a flight to (enter amazing exotic island here).

7) I stained a shirt by spilling my (branded) coffee.

8) The weather is bad and we can’t take the boat out.

9) My friends and I keep fighting about what is an appropriate tip.

10) I only brought my 2 G memory card!

Carrie Ellen Brummer, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Carrie is an artist, a teacher, and a dreamer. She has taught Visual Arts for 8 years and is now an administrator at a school in Dubai. Carrie is also a practicing artist who has had art exhibits in both the United States and Dubai. For more information about Carrie’s work visit her Blog, follow her on Twitter or contact her at opalartist (at) yahoo (dot) com


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