A little while later, I was describing some chaos and stupidity that I was dealing with at work. It was nothing really phenomenal, just the usual snafus and them not being handled as well as they could have.
"You know", I said, "We have such first-world problems."
"What do you mean?"
"We have roofs over our heads, we never worry about where our next meal is coming from, we have good if sometimes annoying medical care... really, our lives are pretty good and our problems are small."
"Yeah, you're right."
A few days later he called me. "You've really changed my outlook on life. Whenever I start bitching about something, I just shake my head and say 'first world problems' and that puts it into perspective for me."
He called today as my plane was boarding. I started grumbling about being stuck in the back of the plane, not even economy+, and the transcontinental flight was full. His response was simply "first world problems." And he was totally right.
Try it sometime. The next time you start complaining about something, look in the mirror and say "first world problems" to yourself.