Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.
— Virginia Satir
There’s a joke going around the Internet that in a year with record recession and pure financial devastation for too many (one is too many), in a year when natural disasters took the life — and livelihoods — of far too many (and one is too many), there was a great hue and cry and wailing and gnashing of teeth over one epic “disaster” in American minds: Netflix raised their rates.
Yes, Netflix, the provider of movies by mail had the audacity to give subscribers a six-week notice that they intended to raise their prices to nearly $17.
I’m an acknowledged cheapskate but I think it’s safe to say that if that is the crux of your life’s dismay, you are leading a pretty charmed life indeed.
While far too many are visited by true trauma and tragedy and deserve our prayers, the truth is that much of what we consider to be “trouble” in our daily life could be seen as a blessing if we only adjusted our thinking. The kids, the car, the house, the job? All blessings, really.
Did you know that while you were wondering if your baby would EVER sleep through the night, someone else was standing over neonatal bassinette praying that someday they could hear their baby cry? Did you know that while you were complaining about your job, there is someone who would give anything to have one? Have you thanked your boss today?
Did you know that while we were complaining that the lawn needs mowing again, someone else was mourning the loss of a beloved family home? Theirs is the one with the waist-high weeds and the orange foreclosure notice on the door.
Somehow, remembering how much some have lost makes my scrubby lawn, sagging gutter and outdated kitchen seem like small potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, while I was worrying about the extra five (okay seven) pounds I picked up someone was going hungry. That pile of dirty dishes? Well I know it sounds trite but be glad you had food.
Yesterday I was irritated because an expensive pet accessory — an electronic dog collar — broke. This would necessitate my picking up one of the five telephones available to me, or perhaps logging on to my computer, to seek a repair. Grueling right?
I live in a world where I can, within minutes, have a resolution to a minor problem — and probably free overnight shipping to boot. Instantly I realized that having problems like electronic dog collars that go awry, a spare tire around the middle or too much grass to mow are most definitely first world problems.
It is always difficult to articulate what I am about to say without sounding like I am saying “embrace the tragedies of others: it will make you feel so much better about yourself!” That is not the point. What I do find helpful is to realize that when I think I have problems, there is always someone who would give anything to trade theirs with mine.
Are we stressed? Tired? Busy? Worried? Of course, we’re human. We worry about the costs and the bills and the grass and the boss. We stress over the litany of practices and grades and games. We (OK, I) freak out over the dishes in the sink and the pile of shoes by the door.
The truth? We have all these “problems” because we are blessed in too many ways to count. I find when I’m sinking in stress and doubt that it is helpful to reconsider your worries as not what you HAVE to do, but what you GET to do. That often makes all the difference.