- I missed that?
- Why did I do that?
- I wonder what they are doing?
- Where did you go?
- When did that happen?
- How come I didn’t know?
If any of that sounds familiar, and is part of your daily play list set to shuffle and repeat then you may very well suffer from FOMO (otherwise know as the Fear Of Missing Out).
In this fast paced world, it’s almost certain that you will miss out something unless you happen to be the Matrix, Lucy or an Amazon Echo. All joking aside, I first learned about FOMO a few years ago and thought now better be the time to write about this topic so I don’t miss out (see what I just did there?).
WHAT IS FOMO?
Contrary to what I thought, there are actually a few variations on what FOMO means and how it shows up but the most common from Oxford English Dictionary is:
Fear of missing out (FoMO) Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
IS IT A REAL THING?
Sadly, it is. I researched this topic and apparently it’s a real thing. So much so, there are studies to back it up.
- FOMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing and although commonly linked to social media as the catalyst for this type of behavior, it’s not always the spark that ignites this type of thinking and behavior by millions every year.
That said, since we live in a world dominated by social media, it makes sense to focus there, as it tends to be the universal culprit.
HOW DID I GET FOMO?
Well you could blame your parents or environment but I would start somewhere else first. According to one of my favorite authors Eric Barker and his recent article on this topic cited that FOMO originates in unhappiness and starts with people not feeling too great about their life.
“Our findings show those with low levels of satisfaction of the fundamental needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness tend towards higher levels of fear of missing out as do those with lower levels of general mood and overall life satisfaction.”
Still think you don’t have FOMO? Well maybe you don’t (right now), but…if you are checking your Social Media (specifically Facebook) before going to bed, upon waking up and during meals – well… there’s a chance you have FOMO.
The good news is that there are ways to combat this habitual mindset and some of it, although may sound extreme – is all doable (within moderation). The key is to remember “why” you are feeling this way and address both the root cause as well as the symptoms. According to both Eric Barker (and science) FOMO starts with sadness. To learn more about the best way to feel better and stop the problem before it starts, click here.
HOW TO LESSEN YOUR FOMO?
I seriously read over 30 different methods/philosophies on how to combat this mindset and below are what I believe are the best and easiest to adopt.
- Dwelling on what you are not doing makes the situation worse than it needs to be and can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Once you have made up your mind, stop thinking about it. Don’t debate whether or not you made the right decision or wonder what you’re missing.
- Limit your social media. FOMO has existed long before social media, but social media has heightened the problem. Seeing pictures of your “friends” out and about can make your head spin and further promote feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
- Be willing to not have it all. Needs are limited. Desires are endless. Accepting the essential futility of trying to fulfill every desire we have is much wiser than indulging all of our impulses for gratification. Prioritizing certain activities can enable you to let go of others. Decide what your highest priorities are and focus on them.
- Practice Mindfulness. Rather than chasing after what may be just an illusion of happiness, you can gently strive for the deep satisfaction that comes with the cultivation of being present in your life and giving non-judgmental awareness to your moment-to-moment experiences. Rather than desperately seeking rock star recognition, cultivate the mastery of enjoying mundane pleasures.
- Prioritize relationships over acquisitions. In terms of your well being, quality relationships trump quantity of possessions and experiences every time. Investing time and energy in relationships, and cultivating the skills that they require, may be one of the best things that you can do to bring higher levels of fulfillment into your life.
- Slow down. Take time to linger over pleasurable experiences rather than rushing through them in quest of the next thrill. Take the time to thoroughly take pleasure in the sensory delights that enter into your field of awareness and cultivate the fine art of savoring the tastes, sights, and other sensations that you encounter in your daily life.
- Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Instead of chasing unrealistic dreams you believe will fulfill you, you can cultivate gratitude. This practice allows you to more deeply appreciate what you have rather than focusing on what you lack or desire. FOMO is fear of not having something that is necessary for our well being. Gratitude allows us to count the blessings in our life right now, in this moment, where life is actually going on.
I get it, we all suffer from so degree of FOMO but the above methods can and should work. Since improving your overall happiness is the underlying piece to lessening both the impulse and effects of FOMO, take a look at this article from Eric Barker New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy.
I have tried all of the actions above and they do indeed work, but the key lies in being patient with you and recognizing that this is a journey. Social media isn’t going away but with some practice, your FOMO can.
The floor is yours: How do you combat FOMO and your relationship to Social Media?
Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.
With leadership, Joshua Miller / www.JoshHMiller.com
Please click ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.