Embrace the JOMO over the FOMO

How to Rediscover More Joy and Fear Less.

We all do it. Our phones ring, our phones chime, our Apple watches vibrate and we jump to get the latest news like a contestant buzzing in to answer a Jeopardy question. Do you remember the last time you were alone, and by alone I mean, without a phone and unplugged? For many of us, it’s been ages. A few years ago I wrote a piece about Why Slowing Down is Crucial for Your Health and How to Do it and today, we prepare the world for our vacations when we say, “We are going to unplug,” as if we are about to fall off the face of the earth forever. I can remember a time when we didn’t even have answering machines and we all survived, so why are we finding it difficult to survive for a matter of minutes without a smartphone? Why is it so hard to resist the urge to know everything that is going on with everybody, every second of the day, as opposed to living in the moment?

With so many opportunities in front of us to connect online, keep up with social media and track our habits via technology and apps, solitude has become nearly non-existent for most of us because it feels inefficient, boring, and yes, we are addicted to our smartphones. I’m sure you’ve heard people watch an Instagram story or view a photo on Facebook and say, “I have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).”  And if you’ve been living under a digital rock, FOMO is used to describe a feeling of anxiety because you are missing out on something or a perception that others are living better lives or having more fun than you are. Research shows that FOMO can negatively affect psychological health. Repeated fear of missing events can lead to social anxiety, depression and even debt, especially for young people and millennials.

As my children get older and I dive deeper into the effect of social media and screens on kids and teenagers, I am driven to turn in towards my “internal compass” and embrace the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). The 3 biggest benefits I’ve seen are:

  1. The ability to think deeper, more clearly and come up with more creative ideas. I’m not comparing myself to everyone else and my mind is less cluttered; a.k.a less “Monkey Brain.” 
  2. A significantly lower desire to scroll through everyone’s Instagram feeds and stories as I question if it’s really serving me. While I am entertained and feel connected to feeds for people and brands I know and respect (everything in moderation right?), I question, “Why do I care” for mindless scrolling. We are conditioned to habits and it makes me happy to feel that the urge is reduced because I am less interested. The key is to break the habit. 
  3. The realization that most our connectivity is a complete waste of time! And when you use Apple’s Screen Time app to track this, it’s a reality check! We all say that time flies but let’s ask ourselves HOW we are spending that time. This was an eye opener for me. 

There are few places we can go these days that don’t offer WiFi, and I’ve found some of this solitude and JOMO during summer beach walks, yoga and family time. The quiet time has allowed me to think deeper, be more successful and feel an overall sense of well-being. After all, it’s your own experiences that make up your wealth and happiness and not those of others, right? To put it bluntly, embracing the JOMO is akin to the art of not giving a f*@ about what’s happening outside of those you care about and respect.  Below are 3 tips that have helped me embrace the JOMO:

  1. Schedule some solitude or unplugged time and get comfortable with it.  Go offline and do something that brings you joy, whether it’s going for a beach walk, meditating, reading a book, taking that dance class or playing an instrument.
  2. Set boundaries.I don’t actually set times for social media but I never look at it in the morning before my workouts and rarely throughout the workday. In the evenings is when I pop into these apps and I look to limit my time as it can be a rabbit hole and before you know it, you spent 30 minutes scrolling “mindlessly” where you could have spent that time with family, reading a good book, going for a walk, or even taking a soothing pre-bed bath.  As you embrace the JOMO, you truly will want more of it. 
  3. Have a purpose for social media.When you are on social media, do it with a purpose to engage. I enjoy social media when I engage, connect and learn from others, but when I simply scroll and passively consume content, it’s an insane time suck. Track this for yourself! Interact with others and use this time to share your own content. But the moment you find yourself scrolling without a purpose, that’s your signal that it’s time to close the app. If it’s helpful, begin with a time limit for yourself, anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on your need to engage. 

Altogether, it’s important to be informed, but reality is that once or twice per day is typically enough. Believing that if we check in 15 times, we will be 15 times more aware, or 15 times more in control is a delusion. Similar tomost bad habits, FOMO is not an issue of technology, rather of our own minds. To disrupt it, we need to stop wondering what might have been and start appreciating what is.  By embracing the JOMO, you will create new space for all of the benefits associated with spending time with people and ourselves that we value. So much of what we see on social media is fake and not real life, so it may be time to consider the things you take for granted in REAL life and be grateful for the present moment, and your inner self. 

Every day and every moment that we have is a gift. Will you choose fear or joy?