It’s a recent Saturday morning and today instead of letting a list of to dos and invitations rule my day, I’m opting out. I’m opting out of the coffee date, the shopping excursion, the party that night, the social media update, and instead choosing a day of reading, cooking, treehouse playing with my daughter, storytelling by the fire on the patio, and getting to bed early. As I stand at our bedroom windows in my comfy robe with a warm cup of tea in hand looking at the cardinals, wrens, and chickadees at my bird feeder, I think to myself did I just turn 80 or 40? But I really do not care because I am in the moment and it is a wonderful feeling to find such joy in the simple things in life. Oh the incredible Joy Of Missing Out.
There was a time when I thought that truly living was to have my time taken up from morning until night by social or business activities – meetings, working lunches, after work drinks, black tie events. Just like any red blooded American, a packed schedule and the pursuit of more took precedence.
I believe we can create our own hell when we jump on the hamster wheel and never stop to question why we are on it. When I say ‘our own hell’ I do not mean that your life will be drenched with awfulness, instead your life’s priorities will lead you to constantly believe happiness is just around the corner if you can only reach ‘this goal’ or buy ‘this new object’, then as soon as that goal or object is accomplished that happiness that dangled like a lure on a hook is now cast further out with a new goal to reach and new object to buy. There of course can be thrills and moments of temporary joy, but that permanence of a peaceful heart and true happiness is alluded. When we pursue money over peace we choose a shallow and complex life over a deep and simple one, which creates discontentment. You end up feeling like you are on a hamster wheel day after day. And of course you do not feel like you can simply jump off the hamster wheel, because what if you miss something in the monotony of that racing wheel? It is FOMO or this Fear Of Missing Out that keeps us racing forward to the next event, the next celebration, the next trip, the next worthy social media post.
We live in a society that puts great emphasis on the pursuit of things all in the name of good economics. But if we examine our current society with a magnifying glass we see people with more mental health issues than ever before, we see people more rude and hateful than ever, we see people so into their iphones they do not even connect with the people sitting right by them, we see people disconnected further than ever from the land, and we see this constant need for bigger, better, faster. After every new ‘breakthrough’ in modern technology or new app I find myself wondering, “Now why is this going to make my life better?”
Making a conscious choice to ‘opt out’ has been one of the most exhilarating decisions of my adult life. Realizing the joy of missing out – the joy of simply sitting with my family, the joy of laying in our hammock with a good book, the joy of spending the day baking with my daughter, the joy of heading up to the treehouse to write, the joy of going to bed early, the joy in spending time really talking to God, the joy of prioritizing ‘sitting still’ higher than any ‘to-do’.
Here are 3 things that have helped me practice JOMO:
Be intentional – After quarantine I will still go to events, will still grab coffee with friends, will still love a great dinner party, will still haul my child to birthday parties and activities, but I will continue to be very intentional with those choices. Be intentional with your time and choose only things you really enjoy doing or your family really enjoys doing. Never choose to go to an event just because you’re afraid someone may talk about if you do not go.
Value your time and say ‘No’ – Just because you do not have anything pressing to do doesn’t mean you should say, ‘yes’ to something. See you time as very valuable and realize that by saying yes to something your heart is not in, is saying no to your time with your family, a hot bath, a hike, a good book, etc. Leisure time should be valued just as much as social and business interactions. This is the first step to self care.
Put down the phone – I’ve said it before and that’s because I need to hear it often myself. The amplifier to FOMO is social media. Do not be tricky into thinking you are missing out, you are doing just fine not going to everything and being friends with everybody. Put down the phone, let the noise in your head disperse and go live without a screen, even if its just for a day. Take a break from social media.