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JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out

JOMO is the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO.

“Oh the joy of missing out.

When the world begins to shout

And rush towards that shining thing;

The latest bit of mental bling–

Trying to have it, see it, do it,

You simply know you won't go through it;

The anxious clamoring and need

This restless hungry thing to feed.

Instead, you feel the loveliness;

The pleasure of your emptiness.

You spurn the treasure on the shelf

In favor of your peaceful self;

Without regret, without a doubt.

Oh the joy of missing out”

—Michael Leunig

Finding my true happiness

I am an outdoor adventurer by nature. I prefer to be amongst the giant trees, alpine lakes and granite walls rather than bogged down in front of my computer and most of all, I love escaping into remote places where I have no cell phone service and no connection to the outside world. Although I do love the company of my amazing friends and family and I do enjoy scrolling social media to view all the cute baby pictures, my friends’ recent adventures, and my college classmates’ new homes; I do not want social media to influence or dictate the majority of my life. I do not want or need to compare my own life with others and I do not want to be bogged down with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I truly am living my own life, fulfilling my true happiness and treasuring all the moments and time that I will never get back.

When FOMO rears its ugly head

Social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter personify FOMO, fear of missing out. We scroll through our news feeds and are inundated with status updates, memes, political puns, photos, and the latest breaking news. Social media is addicting and everything on social media is amazing. We wield the power of a “like”, which stimulates the firing of dopamine in our brains and soon we become addicted to the knowing, the likes, the instant gratification, the attention and the busyness, so we keep going back for more. Minutes can turn into hours while we scroll through news feeds and posts for fear that we will miss out on something.

Just trying to fit in

Another driver of FOMO is the social pressure to be at the right place with the right people, whether it’s from a sense of duty or just trying to get ahead, we feel obligated to attend certain event for work, for family and for friends. This pressure from society combined with the fear of missing out (FOMO) can wear us down and can decrease our happiness. According to a recent survey on LinkedIn, 70 percent of employees admit that when they take a vacation, they stay don't disconnect from work. Our digital habits, which include constantly checking messages, emails, and social media timelines, have become so entrenched, it is nearly impossible to simply enjoy the moment, along with the people with whom we are sharing these moments.

Embracing the joy of missing out

JOMO (the joy of missing out) is the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life. You do not need to compare your life to others but instead, practice tuning out the background noise of the “shoulds” and “wants” and learn to let go of worrying whether you are doing something wrong. JOMO allows us to live life in the slow lane, to appreciate human connections, to be intentional with our time, to practice saying “no,” to give ourselves “tech-free breaks,” and to give us permission to acknowledge where we are and to feel emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Instead of constantly trying to keep up with the Jones’, JOMO allows us to be who we are in the present moment, which is the secret to finding happiness. When you free up that competitive and anxious space in your brain, you have so much more time, energy and emotion to conquer your true priorities.

  • Be intentional with your time: Schedule things that are important to you whether it is working out, meeting a friend for coffee, writing that book or completing a work project. Make your time your priority instead of wasting time worrying about what other individuals are doing or thinking.
  • Give yourself permission to live in the present: If you are having a bad day, be easy on yourself and treat yourself to a relaxing evening. If you just received good news, then take a moment to embrace it and celebrate. If you feel that you are in constant competition with someone on social media, then re-assess why you are feeling this way.
  • Embrace tech-free time: Unsubscribe from social media accounts and un-follow individuals who trigger your FOMO or cause you any type of negativity. Set daily limits to how long you can spend on social media or delete certain social media apps from your phone so you can only status scroll when you are at home on your computer.
  • Practice saying “No”: You do not always have to go to that event or take that phone call. Sometimes saying, “no” is the best kind of self-love. Even if you want to help someone but feel it will have a negative impact on yourself, say “no,” in order to protect yourself. Self-care and self-love start by saying, “no.”
  • Experience real life (not social media life): JOMO allows you to have more free time by eliminating wasted time spent scrolling social media feeds. Instead of spending your free moments by the drama of social media, email and text messages; what if you chose to disconnect and do the things that you enjoy such as cooking, spending time outdoors, and spending time with your family.
  • Slow down: Take time to think before you speak, embrace the quiet, use time driving in traffic or waiting in lines to sit with your thoughts or listen to a book. Slowing down can increase our creativity, which we can harvest into other productive avenues and projects in our life.

Disconnect with technology, reflect on your thoughts and emotions and reconnect with yourself and with people in your life who truly matter.

Don't die with regret

Plant that rose bush, learn a new recipe, write in a journal, and get to know your neighbor instead of worrying about your social calendar on Facebook or what you are missing in cyberspace.

Many people who are on their death bed will tell you that they do not regret the missed parties or the superficial friendships, but they regret the deeper stuff: the long dinner conversations with family, not being true to yourself, not developing deeper relationships, and not practicing enough self-love.

Instead of having FOMO over silly experiences on social media, we should be wary about having FOMO over missing moments with loved ones, watching sunsets, laughing at jokes, traveling, walking barefoot through the grass, hearing the sound of the ocean, and enjoying good food with family and friends.

More from Kristen Fuller, M.D.
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