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When Instagram video first launched, my friends used it to share footage of their pets and friends. I, on the other hand, used it to detail my all out war against the notorious New York City mice.

Looking back on my adjustment to life in the big city, I realise now that grappling with a rodent problem taught me several important lessons. Indeed, I often apply what I’ve learned then to other situations with great success.

I survived New York City and its many mice to share these six tips that you can also use in your daily life.

1. Release your expectations.

The images of New York City sold to us in the Caribbean include those of beautiful skylines, busy streets and flashing billboards across Times Square. That’s why some people are shocked by the realities of the metropolitan when they move there.

New York City has a millions of rats and mice. In fact, Orkin ranks it as the second “rattiest” city in the United States, based on the number of rodent treatments conducted from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016.

Dealing with such a pervasive issue formed part of the culture shock I experienced when I first moved to New York City. However, I moved passed the initial stress of the situation by letting go of expectations.

Once you stop focusing on how you think life should be and learn to accept what is actually in front of you, your anxiety and stress with lessen. Only then will you start to make the changes you need for you to be happy.

2. Focus on solutions, not problems.

With mice literally swinging from my curtains, I had the choice of complaining about the problem or finding a solution. My budget was tight but thanks to the internet and a few trips to corner store, I found affordable items to help me in the fight.

I tried various traps that didn’t work, and even more humane approaches, such as spreading black pepper in the kitchen cupboards. Almost all failed but each attempt at catching the mice fueled me more.

When you’re faced with a problem, take a step back to consider the solutions. Worrying about it won’t make it go away. Instead, be resourceful and find clever workarounds that work for you.

3. Be proactive. 

After surviving my first winter in the company of rodents, I accepted that the New York City mice were there to stay. Yet, that didn’t mean I was content with letting them control life or my kitchen counter space.

To prepare for the colder months when the mice typically came indoors, I thought of ways to make my environment work for me and against the pests. I kept entrances sealed, covered the toilet to prevent their access through the pipes, and tried bribe my neighbours’ cats to join the fight.

Being proactive means focusing on prevention instead of only dealing with problems after they occur. Pay attention to signs of trouble in your life and take steps to ensure your don’t succumb to possible problems.

4. Set your ego aside. 

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, talk of rodents in someone’s home caused great shame. Thus, when the New York City mice took residence in my apartment, I was embarrassed to tell anyone, and I tried to fight them on my own.

However, when I realised the problem was beyond my abilities, I finally asked for help. Not only did I tap into the years of experience and knowhow of people in my community but I also learned a lesson in humility.

Letting our egos dictate our lives prevents us from learning from each other. Indeed, humility and openness will take you further than trying to do everything by yourself.

5. Understand you are not alone. 
New York City Madonna mice
‘Saturday Night with Romeo’: Madonna chats with fans.

During a live chat with fans on Saturday Night with Romeo, Madonna’s bathroom was invaded by an uninvited guest: A rodent. As skin-crawling as the scene was to watch, it taught us that nobody is immune to the scourge that is New York City mice.

In fact, the American Housing Survey states that over 1.1 million households in New York reported issues with mice or rats in 2015. That accounted for over 16 percent of all homes that participated in the study..

Simply, no matter what you face in life, there is someone who understands. By sharing your stories, you can find comfort in knowing there are people who have experienced what you’re going through.

6. Express gratitude.

I never thought I would be grateful for my time with mice but fighting them has made me a more observant, solution-oriented person. Moreover, I have learned to laugh at those eventful days because living with rodents was certainly not boring.

There is always something for which you can express gratitude. No matter how grim circumstances may seem, look at them as opportunities to grow instead of punishments.

This quote is long but it serves this point well!

“Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings.” – Anonymous