I have to admit something to you. I suffer from a difficult and sometimes debilitating condition, experienced by many Americans. My family, my wife, the people around me are all impacted. Scientists are looking for a cure, but to date progress has been slow. Yes, like many, I suffer from FOMO. The fear of missing out.
OK, I admit it. There it feels better already. The road to recovery often begins with a simple admission. Maybe you suffer from this. It shows up in asking my wife to walk down to Lititz (about a 15 minute walk), just to see what is happening. Or, going to the mall, for no real reason at all.
I am recovering. My recovery has been aided some new learning and an amazing example. The new learning came from Austin Kleon’s recent book, Keep Going, 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad. JOMO, is the Joy of Missing Out. In my words, the wonderful understanding that there are people out there having an amazing time, doing something good and enjoyable, and I have chosen NOT to join them. I could be there, but I have chosen as a spiritual and personal discipline, not to participate.
This is the choice to be present, not longing for something else. This is also the choice NOT to overload my schedule. To choose to spend time wisely with family and friends, enjoying community. As Dallas Willard, offers, “arranging my day so that I am experiencing deep contentment, joy and confidence in my everyday life with God”.
Let me give you a great example. We have a dear friend Vickie, who spent a great deal of time planning a group trip to Ireland for us and friends. She and her husband were so excited about the trip. Then there was a blessing. Her husband was diagnosed with a significant heart issue which required surgery, immediately. It meant they would miss the trip. Caring for the health issue is and was the most important thing. But Vickie taught us something important. She showed great, great joy that the rest of the group could still go on the trip. She said time and time again that she enjoyed the trip through our eyes, our stories and our experiences. This was deeply sincere, not just something that Vickie was telling herself. She was showing us, JOMO—the joy of missing out. It made a deep and lasting impact.
So, I believe we all have a bit of FOMO in us. A recent Gallup poll in March 2019 shows that the United States is only the 19th Happiest Country in the world. We have blessings and material wealth, but we remain unhappy. FOMO? Let’s explore. When we see someone else experiencing something new, how do we react? When a friend or colleague receives a well-deserved honor, what is our first thought? When we see all the pictures of the blue water/gentle sunsets and sandy beaches in February, how do we react? Can we enjoy it with and for them? Can we celebrate? Can we set aside the tendency to judge or evaluate? Just enjoy it for and with them. Experience it through their eyes. Can we experience the blessing of this day, instead of longing for tomorrow? Find joy and freedom in what is before us, not in what could be?
How do you see this? Maybe this is just not something you ever think of – and this post seems odd? Maybe, deep down there is something there for you. Just wondering. Would love to hear your perspective.
Steve Jeffrey is the Co-Founder/Guild Master of ForgeWorks and is passionate about building great foundations in people and non-profit organizations. His work is focused on innovation, strategy, affiliations and cultural alignment.