#FirstWorldProblems, Meet Gratitude

I love this cartoon:

My monkey mind. I don’t know who the artist is to give them credit. If you know, let me know.


That poor individual on the right, that’s me. Yes, mindfulness and meditation has helped calm me a great deal, but I would be lying if I said I was 100% Zen 100% of the time. Boy, I would love to be calm and in the moment all the time. I’m working on it, but I have a ways to go.

This monkey mind of mine loves to ferret out ALL of the details of ALL the things I do. And ALL the things I want to do. And ALL the things I think I want to do, yet not quite sure because I haven’t considered the other 10,000 options available to me. This monkey brain knows no patience – I want something done, and I expect it to be done now. It hates to wait – I hate to wait. Quite the opposite of the Zen state-of-mind. I recognize that the more you recognize lack, the more lack there will be in your life. So then I focus in on the moment, of what I have, of knowing that what I desire will arrive at the time it is to arrive in my life. And I am completely okay with this.

Until I’m not.

Case in point: we have lived in our house since 1998. It’s a standard bi-level (or split-level, as it’s sometimes called). It’s a good home, and over the years we’ve added an oversized garage, finished the basement, added a bathroom in the basement, and some other odds and ends. But it’s now overdue for a major facelift. There are holes, nail pops, and cracks in the drywall in every room except one – the one spare room we just updated (but still not 100% complete). The tile floor in the kitchen needs replaced – there are actual loose tiles and grout is coming up everywhere. The cabinets needs updating, as does the countertops. The bathroom upstairs needs remodeled. The entire inside needs repainting once the new drywall work is complete. Let’s not even get started with the outside…

And on it goes. These past two days had two water leaks in the basement, soaking various parts of the carpeted floor. No running water today for nearly six hours! I look and feel scrubby and had to work from home. It would seem my world is falling apart. I wanted to cry this morning (I did yesterday morning during meditation) for all my sorrows. But, I took to my journal and forced myself to take a true account of what was happening. With all that seems to be going wrong with our house, there are many people around the world, even in this country, that would give up everything to have this house. To even have clean running water – even in this “rich” country some people aren’t so fortunate.

#FirstWorldProblems, please meet Gratitude.  I think over time the two of you will get along with one another, but there will be growing pains. Gratitude fills me, heart and soul, until I trip over the loose tile in the kitchen. Then, my eye starts to twitch and I want to scream at the top of my lungs how much I hate this house. Gratitude, you’re going to have to play a bigger role in this relationship. You will need to dominate for a while until #FirstWorldProblems (who also goes by the name of Privilege) understands these little inconveniences are not the end of the world. Yes, I may have to wait just a little longer, but a new floor will come. The repairs will be made. Love and appreciate the house for what it is and it will return the love to me. Continue to notice its flaws and curse the day it was built and it will spit right back at me. Remembering my fortunate state will make this an easier journey. Gratitude has the way of making sense of the world I live in and the events unfolding in front of me. With all my meditation and mindfulness practice, I’m still not perfect (and honestly don’t think I ever will be – I am human after all).  I simply show up each day and hope for the best. I don’t watch much television, but I do read magazines which I believe have a hand in triggering house envy for me. Ever flip through Better Homes and Gardens and just want to dive right into the pages? House and garden perfection on every page! And when I do happen to catch a home improvement show on television, I silently think of ways to write the show to get our house next on the list for their future episodes.  I vow to keep from judging myself against others based on this insanity. First, as much as I love losing myself in the daydreams of magazines, I plan on unsubscribing. And I will just stop torturing myself with the home improvement shows.

One thing is true though: as I return to mindfulness and meditation day after day, my gratitude expands. And my poor house is grateful for this growth and understanding (it’s doing the best it can do given its situation J).


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