Recently, I’ve noticed that whenever I’m complaining about something, life puts me in situations which remind me that what I am going through is so minuscule compared to the rest of the world. It’s like clockwork. I’ll be driving home stuck in traffic thinking about how I wish my commute was shorter and I’ll see 200 people boarding the trolley who may not even have the option to drive to work. Or I’ll be waiting in a long line to buy groceries at Costco and then drive past a homeless person asking for $1 to buy a bottle of water.
A few weeks ago, I went to a CPA to get my taxes done. I was worried about having to shake his hand because my hands are sweaty 90% of the time; nervous or not. I walked in, stuck my hand out hoping for the best and was relieved to see that he didn’t wipe his hand on his jeans or comment about how my hands are sweaty. Side note – I never understand why people say that as if I didn’t already know, lol.
He sits down, takes out his calculator and starts reading over my W-2. As he’s about to turn the page, I notice he has a little sponge and while reaching for it, I see his hands shaking. He dips his finger in the sponge, but he was having a difficult time flipping to the next page. I immediately lean over the desk and say, “oh no problem, let me help you.” I sat back down in my seat and start tearing up thinking about how I was just complaining about having sweaty hands when this man can barely flip a piece of paper over. If that’s not perspective, I don’t know what is.
Of course, I spent the whole car ride home crying thinking about how lucky I am to have hands that don’t shake and how my sweaty hands could be so much worse.
When we’re so focused on our own life, we forget the way the rest of the world operates. I refer to this as “first world problems” because compared to millions of people, we have more than we’ll ever need.
While volunteering in Mexico, I met a little girl who had never slept in a bed with a mattress. She had never watched T.V., gone out to eat at a restaurant, or scrolled through an Instagram feed. Her only belongings were the ones that were on her back, and she was the happiest kid I’ve ever met.
If you’re looking for perspective on your life, take a walk in a low-income neighborhood where a family is one paycheck away from becoming homeless. Or volunteer at an event sponsored by an organization that works with people who are disabled.
Perspective is what life is about. It always turns what we have into enough.