By Gwenn Voelckers
Chances are you’ve heard the expression: Fear of missing out — or FOMO.
It refers to the anxiety that occurs when you fear you are missing out on fun, events, experiences or invitations that could potentially make your life more exciting.
Gripped by FOMO, you can become consumed with chasing any and every opportunity to be socially connected and in-the-know. The constant striving and longing, comparing and despairing, can be exhausting. And seriously stressful.
The good news? The pandemic has knocked the wind out of FOMO, given that many of us still remain anchored at home with few outside activities.
It came as no surprise then when FOMO was replaced with a better, healthier version of itself: The joy of missing out — or JOMO.
It’s all about appreciating the life you have, living in the moment, and being content with your life “as is.” JOMO means slowing down, deepening human connections, being intentional with your time, and focusing on the things that matter to you.
The poem below sums it up beautifully:
“Oh, the joy of missing out.
When the world begins to shout
And rush towards that shining thing;
The latest bit of mental bling –
Trying to have it, see it, do it,
You simply know you won’t go through it;
The anxious clamoring and need
This restless hungry thing to feed.
Instead, you feel the loveliness;
The pleasure, of your emptiness.
You spurn the treasure on the shelf
In favor of your peaceful self;
Without regret, without a doubt,
Oh, the joy of missing out!”
– Michael Leunig
Making the most of missing out during this pandemic has been an eye-opening experiment and experience for me.
Here are a few of the joys I’ve discovered in the hopes that they might inspire you to create your own list.
• The joy of guilt-free rest and relaxation
I’ve embraced my inner sloth. Even in retirement, I was running at a frenzied pace, overprogrammed, and overwhelmed with things to do. Today, I enjoy more leisure time, often watching a matinee movie, followed by a luxurious “no-power” nap.
• The joy of deepening relationships
With fewer options for going out and socializing, I’ve stayed in closer touch with my dearest friends during our weekly “walks and talks” (at a safe distance). Strolling along the canal, on park trails or in residential neighborhoods, we are getting to know each other on a deeper level.
Making more meaningful connections has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings for which I am so grateful.
• The joy of uninterrupted presence
Having the time and space to pause and savor pleasant experiences has made an enormous and positive difference in my life. I’m determined to never let this go. I’ve made a promise to myself to stand still and admire what’s right in front of me, to take the time to internalize the beauty and goodness that’s all around us.
One simple example: Lately, I’ve been watching the birds at my feeder for longer than usual. I can now identify the species, marvel at their exquisite markings and recognize their songs.
This practice of paying closer attention to life’s sweet pleasures has been a tremendous source of joy for me.
• The joy of masking up
Oh, the freedom! I love not putting on make-up these days. Behind my mask I’m all “naturelle,” as the French would say. No foundation, no blush, no lipstick, no nothing. The time and effort I save at my bathroom sink can be better spent watching the birds!
My mask also provides, at times, a welcome measure of anonymity, especially when I complete the look with my big, furry winter hat. All covered up, I can sneak in and out of the local grocery store without being stopped to discuss, well, nothing actually.
Being incognito has been a gift!
• The joy of cooking or not
Many of my married friends have shared this particular joy: They relish being released from food shopping and the routine of preparing three square meals a day. The pandemic has relaxed many of our daily rituals and this is probably most noticeable in the kitchen.
Eating avocado toast four nights in a row? Is that so wrong?
• The joy of fewer choices
I just saw this headline: “The paradox of modern life: so many choices, so little joy.” That resonates with me. I think it explains my love of air travel. My choices are limited. I’m confined to my seat, my meal options are few, and my activity pattern is reduced to reading, listening to music, and ignoring the snoring person seated next to me.
On the plane, I have no important decisions to make or complex problems to solve. It’s heaven! Too many choices can be paralyzing.
The pandemic has contracted our lives and limited our choices. It has delivered untold hardship and heartache. But it has also delivered valuable time in which to reflect and rethink the way we live, the way we love, and the way we experience joy.
Are you missing out on life? Good for you. It’s time for a joyful celebration!
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite Gwenn to speak, visit www.aloneandcontent.com