You're waiting in a long line at the coffee shop when you decide to use the few extra minutes to check up on your Instagram feed. Your screen is suddenly filled with images of luxurious vacation views, new home purchases and perfect family photos. Suddenly, your excitement for a coffee break just turned into a rabbit hole of comparison that leaves you unfocused and anxious the rest of the day. You're not alone. Millions of others are suffering from the same type of FOMO, or the fear of missing out.
The fear of missing out can attack anywhere, at any time, thanks to the power of social media. With the ability to see the best version of people's lives at any given moment, it's just a matter of time before we start wondering and worrying why our own life doesn't look at perfect as the ones we see on our screens.
Social media has catapulted society into a culture of constantly posing, perfecting and projecting our lives into a curated newsfeed. In fact, a recent report from Social Media Today showed that on average, we spend two hours a day on social media platforms. That adds up to five years of an average lifetime, or five years spent looking at someone else's life instead of living your own.
Feeling trapped in the cycle? There's another way. Swap the fear of missing out for the joy of missing out. That allows us to redirect our attention and be present and content with where we are. By letting ourselves be joyful about our current life situation instead of fearful about what we don't have, we are able to take one more step toward happiness.
Here are three ways to practice the joy of missing out (JOMO) today.
How many minutes can you go without looking at your phone or laptop? Don't laugh. If you try it, you may be shocked by the results. Disconnecting from our screens after work hours isn't just breaking an innocent habit; it's actually going through a physical withdrawal. Your brain releases a hit of dopamine every time you do something you enjoy, like seeing an email notification or a like on Instagram. This dopamine hit gives us an instant high that keeps us reaching for our devices.
Take back control of your brain by disconnecting from technology for 30 minutes per day. Take a walk, read a magazine, look out the window. Take this time to think about the goodness in your life that is right in front of you, instead of buried in a phone screen.
While avoiding social media completely is one way to battle FOMO, there are ways to find balance between connecting socially and staying content. Protect yourself from falling into the trap of comparison by unfollowing or muting (it's a real thing) those who leave you feeling unhappy on social media.
Constantly feeling tempted to splurge on clothes or travel when you open your inbox flooded with marketing emails? Unsubscribe! Remind yourself that social media should serve as a way to connect and celebrate those around you, instead of making yourself feel worse.
Our lives are made up of precious moments: talking to your daughter about her day after school, watching the sunset on the porch, laughing with friends during a happy hour, appreciating the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. These are the things we should fear missing out on. The joy of missing out means you actually get to enjoy things happening in real time in your real life. Constantly tracking social media takes our attention away from the present and puts it on someone or something else. In 10 years, are you going to wish that you witnessed that Twitter feud or that you saw your son take his first steps in the living room? Take the time every day to think of the good things that happened and to remind yourself of the blessings in your life.
As Henry David Thoreau said, "Wealth is the ability to fully experience life." Don't let your life pass you by because you spent every minute obsessing over someone else's. Be present. Be mindful. Be content.
The goodness of life is right in front of you.