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How to turn your FOMO into JOMO

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 27, 2022 5:00 am

Now, this is a story about how my FOMO, without my realizing it at first, turned into JOMO. For those who don’t know, as per the Urban Dictionary, FOMO is “a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.” JOMO is the opposite and means the joy of missing out: “you are enjoying what you you’re doing in the here and now, and not on social media or seeing what everybody else is doing.” It is about disconnecting and being happy and content where you are.

Honestly, I think FOMO is in everyone but has been exacerbated by all the media around us: the top vacation places to visit, the “it” bags to have, current trends in fashion you should wear, fun concerts to go to, the best restaurants to dine in, fun parties, and so on and so forth. It leaves a feeling of being left out. So how to keep up? All these social media posts have made me question myself: “Why am I not vacationing there and screaming with delight while I jump off a cliff?” “Where can I buy that bag that can only fit a lipstick or a piece of gum?” or “ Why am I not dancing in slow motion at a club with a delirious look on my face?”

The joy of missing out is disconnecting and being happy and content where you are.

In my past life, I was a hotelier. A hotel is a pretty exciting place to work in. It is bustling with people staying at the property; guests having coffee, drinks and food at the restaurants, bars, and lounges; clients having spa services; fitness enthusiasts working out at the gym or lounging about by the pool. Not to mention, the many different daily business and social events. I would steadfastly check on all that was happening (impressively in four-inch heels) always. It was a total beehive of activity, and I would not—could not—miss anything.

Enter the pandemic life pause and the unsettling ceasing of most activity. Actually, this was the best thing that happened because there was no choice but to look into the “activities” in my head. It also coincided with a growing realization I was starting to have, so I can’t give the pandemic all the credit. I realized that I did not want to be wherever “everyone” was, or have what “everyone” had. I had slowly stopped caring, but in a good way. Admittedly, there was a time I FOMOed everything, especially when I was younger. I even took it to a new level by missing the past. Can you imagine FOMOing a time period? Like, why wasn’t I doing “that” or eating “this” in 2015?

Knowing what to miss and not helps you identify what you really enjoy, kind of like setting boundaries for yourself.

This doesn’t mean that I may never, ever get influenced, or want to be in on something that I might enjoy. I’m still curious about new life experiences. It’s just that now I can distinguish what I really like. I may not be interested in keeping up, but I am current and try not to be enslaved by trends. I hope that’s not confusing, but there is a difference. Anyway, I have always been in awe of original ideas, innovators, individuals who are different from the herd. Unique people and ideas have always attracted me. At present, it is my prevalent preference.

I’m still curious about new life experiences. It’s just that now I can distinguish what I really like.

Every morning I read a passage from The Daily Stoic: 365 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and The Art of Living by Ryan Holiday. A simple definition of Stoicism has been provided by yourdictionary.com, which is “enduring pleasure or pain without showing emotion.” Britannica further states that it is “a school of thought that flourished in Greek and Roman antiquity. It was one of the loftiest and most sublime philosophies in the record of Western civilization. In urging participation in human affairs, Stoics have always believed that the goal of all inquiry is to provide a mode of conduct characterized by tranquility of mind and certainty of moral worth.”

The craving then fear of blessings not coming is like an emotional tug of war.

Let me tell you why I bring together Stoicism and FOMO. In order to cull unhealthy obsessions, which I believe is a part of FOMO, we must be reasonable and not passionate. Seneca, a Roman statesman, and Stoic philosopher, was wealthy and appropriately “enjoyed possessions but knew the transient nature of things and life, so was indifferent to it.” So note to self: stop looking at and hugging your favorite bags. The craving then fear of blessings not coming is like an emotional tug of war. It brings no peace. I am not yet one hundred percent sold on Stoicism, though, but imagine being indifferent to body weight; getting that new “it” item; going on that vacation because someone did; and comparing what you and others have. To remove that FOMO feeling. That is powerful.

According to a piece on the topic in lifesgoalsmag.com, there are steps one can take to get into the JOMO zone. This includes: accepting your feelings of FOMO; question what you FOMO; identify what fear you have and acknowledge and confront it. The last step is to “let joy in.”

Relinquishing FOMO in our lives is a form of self-care.

I am still finding my way, though. Social media is still a FOMO trigger. I do get swayed from time to time, but I make a conscious effort to delay the dopamine high from instant gratification and get it elsewhere. Listening to music, meditating, and accomplishing a task are a few examples.

I just know that relinquishing FOMO in our lives is a form of self-care. It is astonishing what it can do for one’s wellbeing. Wish me luck as I now choose to live the unbothered life of JOMO. I think it is worth it because, you know, YOLO—you only live once.