In our hyper-connected world, FOMO (the “fear of missing out”) is a regular experience for many of us. Thanks to the constant stream of texts, Facebook notifications, and Instagram likes that flood our screens on a daily basis, we’re painfully aware of all the events we could attend, the people we could connect with, and the places we could visit. When the opportunities seem to be endless, the pressure to do it all can become overwhelming.
Here’s the kicker: When you constantly fear that you’re missing out, you actually do end up missing out…on your own life. But what if you turned FOMO on its head? What if instead of feeling sad about missing things, you embraced the joy of what you’re doing right now?
Enter JOMO: the “joy of missing out.” It’s all about being at peace with the present moment and choosing to do what makes you happy—which is why some experts call JOMO the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO. Here are three ways to make JOMO a part of your life:
1. Add Excitement to Your Schedule
Take ten minutes to jot down the activities that actually bring you joy. “When I ask people what brings them joy, 97 percent of people talk about being with loved ones, being in nature, a hobby they love, making things, or other creative pursuits,” says Christina Crook, author of The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World.
Then, look at whether your calendar overlaps with your list. “If it doesn’t,” says Crook, “make adjustments.” You’re much less likely to feel like you’re missing out when you have something to look forward to in the not-so-distant future. Try to schedule at least one joy-inducing activity each week. If you need some inspiration, think about what captured your imagination as a child: Perhaps you spent hours on arts and crafts or had a passion for dance. The goal is to have a schedule that is not only full, but fulfilling.
2. Embrace Disconnection
We’re all used to being online 24/7, but even tech leaders like Google CEO Sundar Pichai have been embracing JOMO. Two years ago, when he announced a “digital wellbeing” initiative, the words “Joy of Missing Out” were emblazoned on the wall behind him.
How can you be present in the moment when your phone keeps buzzing with notifications? The short answer: You can’t. “Turn off the notifications on your phone. All of them!” Crook says. “That’s the only way to create intentionality about how you use your device.”
If you aren’t ready or able to disengage from social media entirely, try temporarily turning your phone on airplane mode to remove the constant stream of notifications that fill your phone and pull your attention away from the present moment. You can also delete apps like Facebook if you find they’re triggering FOMO, or un-follow specific people who spark more negative than positive feelings for you.
3. Redefine “Busy”
“Many people wear their busyness as a badge of honor,” says meQuilibrium Chief Science Officer Andrew Shatté, Ph.D. This is often the work of Iceberg Beliefs—big, primarily subconscious beliefs about how the world “should” be—that make it difficult to relax without feeling guilty, such as “If I’m not busy, I’m not important,” or “If I’m not productive, I’m not useful.” But the science is clear: To truly live a full life, we need to take time out to rest and recharge.
If you find it tough to set aside downtime, the first step is to do a realistic reset on your beliefs about busyness. For example, “Rest is not the opposite of effort. It’s the foundation.” or “I deserve my own attention and care.” Then, make JOMO a priority the way you would set aside time to eat properly, exercise, or carve out a date night with your partner.
Remember: Putting your needs first does not mean that everything else has to fall to the wayside. It just means that you are refueling…which will ultimately help you do a better job at taking care of everyone and everything else. “Every time you say yes to one thing you’re saying no to a thousand other things,” says Cook. “The joy of missing out is about being confident in that choice.”
Hannah Wallace is a Portland-based journalist and editor who writes about integrative medicine, sustainable agriculture, and wine for Food & Wine, Vogue, Fast Company, and other publications. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @Hannahmw23.