Originally published in Huffington Post on January 27th 2019

There is joy to be had out there in the real world, so embrace it, welcome it with open arms.

You know that nagging feeling you get, that nervous twitch that makes you check your phone for new messages or that has you relentlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed?

I’m talking about the fear of missing out, or FOMO as the cool kids like to call it, one of an endless list of negative side effects to come out of our social media reliant society. In the same way that people get addicted to alcohol, or get a buzz from gambling, our social media addiction is controlled by the power of the like button; that instant gratification of knowing someone approves of what you have posted. That urgent sense of immediacy, the power of knowing absolutely everything about everybody at any given time, and yet real time seems to almost stand still as we spend minute after minute aimlessly scrolling and swiping for fear of missing out.

But what are we so worried about missing out on exactly?

Well, that is the big question. And as more and more of us are starting to see the benefits of switching off and stepping away from the screens it seems that FOMO has metamorphosised . We‘re no longer concerned about being seen to be hanging out with the right people, at the right place, wearing the right clothes. That kind of life is way too hard to sustain. For starters it costs too much, but then there’s the time and effort it takes, not to mention the detrimental effect it has on our mental and emotional wellbeing.

 

Turning A Negative Into A Positive

There is a now a new acronym on the block, JOMO – the joy of missing out, which actively encourages people to find pleasure in chilling out, turning down invites, saying no and choosing instead to do exactly what they want for a change.

JOMO is the digital detox we’ve all been craving. It allows you to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, to stop comparing yourself to others, to be grateful, to be right there in the moment. To use the famous Kondoism, it is about finding that spark of joy in what you already have. And when the penny finally drops, that by ‘missing out’ on fake digital lifestyles we actually start to create one which is wholly involved, inclusive and real, only then can we truly say we have reached a state of JOMO .

It may sound daunting, however there are steps we can take to help embrace the JOMO way of life:

 

Disconnect

Having a break from social media is one of the best ways to switch off and avert your mind away from other people’s business. It doesn’t have to be a forever thing, but there are small habits you can adopt that will help. For example, keeping your phone downstairs when you to bed each night, switching off the WiFi for a weekend every once in a while, and when you go on holiday keeping the phone for emergency phone calls only. Another thing to consider is whether you need to be using as many platforms as you are. Ask yourself the following questions – do you need a Twitter account as well as Instagram and Facebook? Does one cause you more anxiety than others? Could you live without one of them? If you answered yes to any of these questions, choose one and shut it down today.

 

Reconnect

Having disconnected from your online life now is the ideal time to reconnect with your real life, after all you‘ll have plenty more time to do so now. Make arrangements to see that friend you haven’t seen for ages. Take your mum shopping, visit your Gran, spend some quality time with yourself doing something you haven’t done before but have always wanted to.

 

Reflect

Start your morning on a positive note by setting your intentions for the day and creating healthy wellness habits. Whether you do this by mediating, sitting quietly with a cup of coffee, taking the dog for a walk, or reciting a personal mantra, finding out what mindful practices work for you enables you to take control and to find purpose in your own life.

The only ones who are missing out are those who are caught up in the tangled web of lies that are spun to us in our every waking moment online. They fear they are missing out on something that is, in reality, not as it seems. And the only thing they are missing out on is their own precious life. There is joy to be had out there in the real world, so embrace it, welcome it with open arms and find joy in a life where you are most definitely not missing out.

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