Joanne Palmer: Tuning out the complaints |

Joanne Palmer: Tuning out the complaints

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

I couldn't find my iPod during the weekend. I was annoyed. I can't clean the house unless I listen to music, so really, there was not much point in dragging the vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies out of the closet.

I checked all the usual places — the car, my cubby (which serves as a catch-all for my car keys, change and receipts) and the mail basket.

No iPod.

I decided to Google movie times instead. Saturday was quite rainy and maybe there was a matinee I could watch to procrastinate instead of cleaning the house. The Google search gave me a pop-up window that suggested I update my browser to a newer, cooler, faster version of something, which annoyed me.

I decided that even without the iPod, I better vacuum up the dog hair in my house. Hauling out the vacuum cleaner, I was annoyed by the weight of it and annoyed that I was annoyed by it. I thought to myself: I really am having a First World problem kind of day.

As defined by Urban Dictionary, First World problems are "problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third-worlders would probably roll their eyes at." Some examples:

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"Something beeped but I don't know if it's the convection oven, Roomba or Google Buzz."

"I don't know which 3-carat platinum diamond ring to buy."

"I paid $400 for my Beats by Dre headphones, but I had to return them because they made my ears too hot."

"My iPad 3 doesn't warm my lap as much as my MacBook Pro."

"I added my MacBook Air to my work bag tonight. I only usually have my iPad in it. It's killing my shoulder."

"I can't find the keys to my Mercedes. My Hermes handbag is just too big to find anything in it."

Here in Steamboat, we have our own set of Steamboat World problems They might sound something like this:

"My Moots is in the shop, I can't go for a ride."

"My polypro isn't dry."

"Dude, there has to be 6 inches of fresh pow before I'll go up."

"Should I go to happy hour at Rex's or Mahogany?"

Listen to yourself and your friends, and you might be surprised at what you complain about. Is it really a problem? I recently read a story about an Israeli inventor who created a bicycle out of cardboard. Yes, cardboard. There are no metal parts, and it's made completely from recycled materials. He wants to give people in developing nations an affordable means of transportation. He hopes it will sell for $20.

Even in Steamboat, there are people who don't have enough of the basics: food, shelter or money. There are people struggling with medical problems for themselves or loved ones. Problems are relative, and it's our own egos that make us think that others care about our struggles. Most likely, they do not. And yet, instead of being grateful for what we do have, we frequently complain about what we don't have.

I might not be able to afford a 72-inch TV for Christmas.

My kid's Xbox broke.

I can't find the right granite for my countertops.

When I find myself stuck on the "complain channel," I ask myself: Is this really a problem? Most of the time, it is not. I need to get back on my anti-complaining diet. Like all diets, it's a struggle at times, but I think those around me will be glad I did.

As for my iPod, I finally found it in my gym bag. No problem.

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