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FOMO Explained

I'm sure many of you are looking at that title thinking "What in the world is FOMO!?" FOMO is the fear of missing out but it's not exactly a new behavior. Some say that FOMO dates back to early civilizations. You see, it's linked to our stress response. In ancient civilizations, missing out on information, a new food source for example, could mean the difference between life and death. Being 'in the know' was critical to survival. Fear of missing out is actually deeply ingrained in us. Part of our brain senses if we are being left out. However, being left out is no longer a life or death situation but we still fret nonetheless.

Social media and technology trigger FOMO and can actually lead to addiction. Of course, feeling left out never feels good which is why we do whatever we can to not stress over it. This leads to obsessive habits of checking our devices. The more we mindlessly scroll the less work we do on ourselves, our jobs, or academics. I think we are all guilty of checking our devices too often but with obsessive behaviors comes loneliness, anxiety and life dissatisfaction.

A TIME article reports:

People between the ages of 18-24 check their phones an average of 74 times a day.

People between the ages of 25-34 check their phones an average of 50 times a day.

People between the ages of 35-44 cheek their phones an average of 35 times a day.

Before bed, once we wake up, during meals and so on. Have you ever actually monitored how many times you check your phone a day? It is frightening to be honest with yourself with that question and the problem is, how do we fix it? How do we move past the obsession of 'what could be,' and accept what IS? When we're continually looking for the next new thing or stressing over documenting our activities via social media just to prove we're 'one of you', we miss out on living in the moment. When we focus so much on what everyone else is doing, we forget to ask ourselves what we want and who we want to be.

FOMO is caused by spiraling bad habits. The good news is habits can be broken at any moment. That's the beauty of life. You are in the driver seat. You get to decide how you will spend your day. One bad habit is to avoid being honest with yourself about a 'yucky' feeling you are having. Instead of sitting with it, checking your phone helps to avoid your thoughts. The problem is, your phone is only going to make the worrying worse. Next time you are feeling stressed try a new habit like:

Yoga, be in nature, journal, meditate, deep breathing, volunteer, exercise, do something creative, or even lay in the grass and look up at the clouds. Step away from the device.

Practicing mindfulness can do wonders for your mood as well. The more you encourage your mind to be present, the easier it will become. Eventually, you won't even need to try. Some mindfulness techniques you could try are:

When you are doing something like washing the dishes. Pay attention to how the water feels on your hands, how the soap smells, etc. Using more of your five senses can really bring you into the moment.

Stare at a candle flame for ten minutes while studying everything you can about it. When your mind wonders, become aware of where it's going, then bring it back to the candle flame.

Grasp your hands tightly and hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then release and pay attention to how your hands feel. Keep your attention focused on the feeling as long as you can.

So we know FOMO is the fear of missing out. Any guesses what JOMO is? JOMO is the JOY of missing out! JOMO is about getting excited to not have every minute planned. It's about understanding yourself, your needs and desires, and to be truthful with yourself. It helps to encourage you to embrace the pleasure of choosing what you want to do, or not do. At the heart of JOMO is the power to act in a way that engages and fulfills you.

I challenge you to stop looking for the next activity, and simply find appreciation for the moment you are in. Give undivided attention to those you are with. This is a VERY hard task, especially in todays world. It won't be easy for any of us BUT I believe in you. You got this!

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