The Joy of Missing Out

It seems to me that many of our everyday decisions are driven by the fear of missing out. It manifests itself in many ways: our eyes are glued to our social media feeds, we’re constantly buying or saving up for the latest tech or fashion craze, and it seems we can never miss attending a social event or trip with friends—even at tremendous unreasonable cost to ourselves. It’s the unsettling anxiety that everybody else is or will be having more fun, and happiness than us.

This fear is so common, we’ve made an acronym for it, FOMO, and adopted it into everyday conversation. There’s even a Wikipedia entry for it.

FOMO too is often accompanied by time pressure, so that unless you buy in, take, participate, or make a decision now, you risk missing out on something good—or so the thinking goes.

“50% off Today Only.”
“Early investors get a potential 10x return.”
“Limited Edition”
“Hurry while supplies last.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“You’re the only one not coming.”

This is why I like the idea of cultivating JOMO, the joy of missing out. It’s not about being indifferent, or just unaffected when you miss out. It’s in fact, being joyful when you do.

The person who cultivates JOMO knows that certain deeper joys often require calm but active patience, coupled with missing out on some things, including good things, at the moment.

It means prying oneself away from distractions, tempting offers, side projects good and bad, some opportunities and other things that do not align with one’s goals and values—and being completely okay, even happy, in doing so.

There are days when I fear I’m missing out because of my life decisions, including everything from my faith, career choices, personal values, priorities, and set of friends. But when those days come, I remind myself why the tradeoff is good: there are specific joys I want to have in life, and I want the kind that’s long-lasting, truly fulfilling, and good for my soul. If missing out, being out of the loop, and saying no to a few things here and there is what it takes, I’d be glad to do just that.

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