Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fear Of Missing Out

Leo Baubata recently published an article on the fear of missing out.  I will attach said message at the end of this, no worries, those of you that are afraid of missing out on it ;).  If you do a search for this topic you will find blog after blog writing on this which might lead one to believe this is a recent thing. 

FOMO or fear of missing out was actually coined in 1985 by by Kelley J Watson and Diane E. Meyer nee Wells according to Wikipedia.  This was well before the advent of the iPhone, tweeting, facebook, instagram, and all of the latest craziness. 

Here is Urban Dictionary's top definition:
fomo6186 up, 1739 down
April 14, 2011 Urban Word of the Day
"fear of missing out". The fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great.
 
Even though he was exhausted, John's fomo got the best of him and he went to the party.
 
I have to admit to an aha moment when I received Baubata's article.  It explains so much about myself.  I am driven by this fear and it often leads to unhealthy decisions on my part.  It also leads to huge time sinks.  How often do I really need to check Facebook?  Need to?

I have taken leadership positions because I was afraid of missing out.  I have held on to leadership positions for longer than what was healthy due to FOMO.  I have had troubles deciding what I want to do with my life because I've wanted to do it all for fear of missing out.  Overcommitting (for what is healthy for me) is how I became so ill.  A tick or a bad back or e coli might have helped, but it was my habits that allowed my health to deteriorate so thoroughly and so rapidly. 

I would guess that FOMO is at the root of many people's problems with time management and responsibilities.  And so many parents are passing this on to their children which cell phones, scheduling them for tons of after school activities, tutors, etc...  When do our children get to be kids?  When do we get to rest?  Or re-create? 

When is enough enough?  For me, first I need to become aware of the issue and I cannot express the relief I felt when I learned of this.  Now I can see where I went wrong and why.  I can see how pervasive this issue is.  And I can see why I continue to question my direction. 

Here is Leo Baubata's article for your consideration: 
The 39th Lesson
Post written by Leo Babauta.
Today (April 30) is my 39th Un-un-birthday, and as usual, the day is a good day to pause and reflect.
Last year I wrote 38 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 38 Years, and people seemed to find some use in it.
This year, I thought I’d share an additional lesson I’ve learned:
You’re not missing out.
Our lives are often ruled by the Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO. (Never heard of FOMO? You’re missing out.)
Some ways we let the fear of missing out rule us:
  1. We check email, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks often, in case we’re missing something important.
  2. We try and do the most exciting things, and are constantly in search of exciting things, because we’re worried we might miss out on the fun that others are having.
  3. We constantly read about what other people are doing, and try to emulate them, because it sounds like they’re doing something great that we’re not.
  4. We often want to travel the world, because it seems that other people are living amazing lives by traveling all the time.
  5. We miss what we don’t have, miss places and people who we aren’t with.
  6. We work constantly, because we think if we don’t, we might miss out on opportunities other people will get.
  7. We feel like our own lives are poor in comparison with the great lives others are leading, and so feel bad about ourselves.
I could go on and on, but I have a birthday breakfast to eat (Eva and the kids are baking something delicious), so I’ll stop there.
We fear missing out, but why?
The truth is, we could run around trying to do everything exciting, and travel around the world, and always stay in touch with our iPhones and Crackberries, and work and party all day long without sleep … but we could never do it all. We will always be missing something.
And so, if we cannot help missing out, what is a saner alternative than letting this fear drive us? Let go of it, and realize you have everything right now.
The best in life isn’t somewhere else. It’s right where you are, at this moment. There is nothing better than exactly that.
Pause for just 10 seconds, and notice where you are, what you’re doing, who you are, at this very moment. Notice that you are breathing, and how lovely that is. Notice that you can smile, and feel the joy in that. Notice the good things around you. Give thanks for the people you’ve seen today. Celebrate the perhaps not altogether insignificant fact that you are alive.
This moment, and who you are, is absolutely perfect.
You are missing nothing, because there is nothing better.
You can breathe, and let go of all that fear of missing out, and be happy with what you have. Be grateful, and each moment think not about what you’re missing, but what you’ve been given.
This past year has been my best ever, because each day I have celebrated my Un-birthday with a smile and warmth in my heart. Today, I celebrate my non-un-birthday, and it is perfect. This moment I have spent talking to you is a gift. Thank you, my friends.

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