The Common Habit Keeping Your Dreams From Coming True
Melissa Ambrosini is an entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, and self-love teacher. Her mission is to guide people to live from the heart. To learn more about choosing love over fear and how it can change your life, explore her class, Manifest Your Dream Life: How to Bring Abundance to Your Career, Health & Relationships.
In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary added an important word to their line-up.
Now, to be fair, they add new words every year. If a word is used a lot, to the point where it becomes absorbed into regular daily use, or a part of popular culture, they'll add it to their list. (This is exactly how words like "twerk" and "fo shizzle" have become part of the lexicon—and no, I'm not kidding!)
But this word, to me, is particularly important. It says a lot about the state of our lives and our minds—in fact, about our culture as a whole. That word was "FOMO."
Yep, apparently enough of us were talking about our fear of missing out that the Oxford peeps decided it warranted inclusion in the dictionary—the list of words that represents society as a whole.
I mean, let's face it: Instagram posts, Facebook updates, tweets, newspaper articles, blog posts, song lyrics—heck, even tattoos—of these four letters have been seen across the globe.
They've come to symbolize an all-too-common aspect of our modern mindset—the overwhelming anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.
It's the fear that while you're watching an episode on television, something else might be on another channel that's better. Or while you're on a date with Person X, there might be a Person Y out there who's even more "perfect" for you. Or while you're attending one party, there might just be another one happening down the street that's infinitely better and more exciting than the one you're currently attending.
And what does all this worry do to us?
Well, of course, we become completely detached from the present moment—and completely unable to enjoy the here and now (the only moment we truly have)—because we're so caught up in that all-consuming thought: that there might be something else out there that's better, and ohmygod we're gonna miss out on it.
The Oxford Dictionary people, in all their wisdom, actually expanded their definition with a specific example of where FOMO is most frequently triggered. In their words, it is "often aroused by posts seen on social media."
And, boy, is this true.
Social media is a fertile feeding ground for FOMO. Our feeds show us a constant stream of awesomeness—the glamorous parties, the perfectly plated meals, the epic business achievements, the adventure-filled holidays, the abundant lives people live, the picture-perfect workouts and abs in glossy, glistening detail. And it makes us feel like crap.
In case you're doubting the validity of this fear, let me be clear: The impact of FOMO is not just in our imaginations. It's real. An Australian study published last year found that one in two teenagers have FOMO. They feel like they're "missing out" on the seemingly perfect lives that other people portray on social media. They worry that they're having less rewarding experiences than their friends. They're anxious that their friends are off having fun without them. And they even report feeling distressed if they don't know what their friends are doing.
That's a whole lot of angst.
And the FOMO phenomenon doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it seems to be growing.
So, what on earth can we do about it?
Well, I propose that we add a new word to our cultural vocabulary—one that would counteract all of this angst and fear, that would help us shift our collective mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance, that would help us return to the present moment and tune in to all the wonder that this life has to offer.
So what is this magical, miraculous word?
That's right: JOMO. Or, the JOY of missing out.
FOMO, as the name suggests, is grounded in fear. It indicates a scarcity mindset. It's rooted in the belief that the present moment is not good enough. It's predicated on comparison and on measuring ourselves against other people.
JOMO, on the other hand, is built on the foundation of joy. It's about having an abundant mindset that sees the present moment as a gift. It's about looking for the beauty and wonder in what you have and what you're experiencing right now and pulsating with gratitude for the blessing that it is. It's about keeping your eyes on your own game and forgetting what everyone else is doing, so you can soak up every single ounce of goodness possible from the current moment.
The difference between the two is chalk and (activated cashew) cheese.
Now, I know it's all well and good to discuss these ideas in the abstract, but what does JOMO actually look like in reality? How does it feel? How do you embrace it? Let me give you a few examples:
JOMO is relishing time alone. It's finding the sacredness in solitude, knowing that time spent by yourself isn't time wasted. It's time to pause and expand and just be.
JOMO is not about worrying about what's cool. It's letting go of the need to be in the know. It's not just releasing your need to "keep up with the Joneses" but about stepping outside of that framework altogether.
JOMO is feeling safe and secure enough to say no—to invitations, to requests, to business opportunities. It's about embracing an abundance mindset, knowing that there's enough pie for everyone and that another door will always open when you're ready for it.
JOMO is being wherever you are, wholly and completely. If that happens to be sitting across the dinner table from your partner or your children, be all there. If that happens to be at a fancy-pants red-carpet party with all your closest friends, be all there. And if that happens to be at home alone on the couch with your latest Netflix obsession, you guessed it: Be. All. There.
JOMO is transforming your relationship with social media. Note that I didn't just say "switching off" from it or "taking a digital detox." These solutions, while effective, are only short term. Taking one day a week off from social media and expecting that to transform you is like going to the gym once a week and expecting to magically get a six-pack—it ain't gonna happen.
To me, the notion of switching off or taking a break from social media is missing the point. We don't just need an intermission from the noise, we need to completely reframe our relationship to the noise entirely. If every spare minute of your life, every inch of white space you're looking to fill with social media, you're setting yourself up for FOMO—even if you think you'd rather have joy. And one day a week simply isn't going to make a difference.
So today, I've got three tips for you on this front. If you want to shift your relationship with social media and create more space for joy than fear, these are great ways to get started:
1. Resist the urge to fill the gaps with social media.
If you're standing in line at the checkout, sitting in the waiting room at the dentist, or if you've got two minutes to kill before your kid is finished with basketball, resist the urge to reach for your phone. Let it pass. Instead, stay in the moment and really experience the space and the breathing room all around you. That moment—this moment—is all we ever have, so be in it with all your heart.
2. Resist the urge to document everything.
So, you and your partner are having a crazy-delicious meal at an exclusive restaurant? Great! Be there. Be all there, which means no whipping out your phone and sharing your pic with your 500 closest friends or checking 12 times during the meal to see who's liked it yet.
We've all seen those funny memes that go around the internet every so often: "It's not real unless it's on Facebook." This sentiment is like the essence of FOMO—but it's from the other side. It's feeding other people's FOMO. It's making sure that everyone else knows that you are, in fact, living a noteworthy life. If only they could keep up with you.
Now, I'm not saying you can never post anything on social media again—indeed, for me and for many people, social media is an essential component of our businesses and our creativity. But I do want to encourage you to be a lot more thoughtful and intentional about what you are sharing and why. Is your sharing taking you out of the present moment? Are you sharing from your heart? Are you feeding the FOMO? If so, perhaps you can decrease how much you document your life. It's not Facebook or "Likes" that make your experiences real; it's being in the moment.
3. Schedule specific times where you're allowed to look at/think about social media, then switch your brain off from it altogether.
I always find it funny that none of us would ever dream of turning on an episode of, say, The Big Bang Theory every two hours of our workday. Nor would we keep it playing in the background while we're trying to get stuff done. We know that that's unproductive and would be turning our brains to mush (not to mention, we'd either get fired or drastically reduce our income).
Yet social media punctuates people's days in exactly that way: 20 minutes here, half an hour there, another 15 minutes after lunch, and so on and so on. Make no mistake: All those stolen minutes add up. And they all contribute to your brain being wired to need that dopamine rush, to need the stimulation, to buy into the FOMO.
Instead, I suggest having one or two finite windows a day when you check in—just like you might let yourself watch one or two episodes of your favorite TV show after dinner, then switch it off and be done with it until next time. It's there, and it's fun, but once you click the off button on the remote, your brain instantly moves on to the next moment.
I want this joy-based mindset to become the default setting for our culture. I want us all to be wired for joy, not fear. These are just a few small steps toward making that happen, but they're a start. And I can guarantee that implementing even just one of them will have positive repercussions across areas of your life that you can't even imagine.
By embracing a JOMO mindset, you can create a richly abundant, layered, meaningful life—one in which you're in the moment, where you're full of gratitude, where you've got plenty of inner space, and where your whole existence is focused on living your own truth (no one else's).
And that, right there, might be the most joyous thing of all.