Instead of FOMO, Experience JOMO, the ‘Joy of Missing Out’

Being there for yourself sometimes means bowing out of time spent with others.

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Posted in , Mar 29, 2019

The joy of being alone

Loneliness in modern culture is so pervasive, many refer to it as an “epidemic.” A related phenomenon is what’s known in social media parlance as FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.” To feel FOMO means to be anxious that there is something going on somewhere that you should be showing up for.

But FOMO doesn’t necessarily motivate us to combat loneliness in a healthy way; more often, it can get us deep into what the Australian podcaster Brooke McAlary calls “the Busy Olympics” of overflowing calendars and commitments.

What would it look like to step away from the pursuit of fullness and toward the simple pleasures that mean the most to you? I recently encountered the phrase JOMO, or the “joy of missing out.” 

The artist Michael Leunig wrote a short poem, titled “JOMO (Joy of Missing Out)," about the emotional intelligence we display when we are content with where we are and what we are doing in any given moment. Competition and envy slip away in his vision of an authentic, accessible and positive attitude. 

Practicing JOMO means turning away from material possessions, shallow relationships, photo ops and “the latest bit of mental bling” in favor of meaningful human interaction, satisfying home and professional work and time for leisure. 

I struggle with this sometimes, and you might too. I like being able to say “yes” to opportunities to be with people, try new things and maintain long-distance friendships over social media. But sometimes, I’m learning, doing those things means I’m tacitly saying “no” to myself, passing up opportunities to tuck some seeds into my garden, read another chapter in a good novel or have a long walk-and-talk with a friend. 

The truth is, everyone “misses out” on some things. Whether we experience those moments through the lens of fear or joy is our choice, but a positive view would certainly lean toward the latter.

Is JOMO a helpful way for you to think about how you spend your time and energy?

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