Getting Rid of FOMO

Fear of missing out. We’ve all experienced it. Probably while scrolling through our instagram feed. Ha! I used to experience it when I would use social media and see beautiful pictures of people living it up in foreign countries or drool-worthy walk-in closets filled with luxury purses (purses are my weakness). But now, instead of letting those images fester into jealousy or discontent, I use them as a source of inspiration and celebration and here’s how you can too without avoiding social media.

Reconfigure the purpose of social media

Its up to you to define what purpose social media has in your life. For some people, unfortunately, it can be a source of competition and constant one-up-manship. They spend so much precious time looking at pictures and videos that they create a very negative narrative in their head and it goes something like this: “My life sucks, I don’t have as much stuff as so-and-so, I don’t get to go or do all the cool things that so-and-so does, if I want to live the good life then I need to do/have/be what so-and-so does/has/is”.

The funny thing is even if you were to have the same things or do the same things as that other person, there will always be someone else doing and having “more”. There is a hadith that says,

If the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would want to have two valleys.”

Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6075, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1048

Instead of letting all those photos let you grow so utterly dissatisfied with your own, see them as a source of inspiration and a celebration of beauty that propel you to find your own beauty in your life. Or, even better just as what it is — a picture on the internet. After all you don’t really know that person or what their life is like in reality. A beautiful life is made in the small moments and details, not by owning all of the things.

 Imagine yourself in that picture

This is a good one. Whenever you see something that is starting to give you FOMO, fully and completely start imagining yourself in the reality of that situation to see if that’s something that will actually bring you joy. If it does, then see the paragraph above and find a way to bring that into your life, but I bet that most of the time it won’t bring you true joy.

For example, luxury cars a big hit on instagram. Girls and guys pose next to their(?) Masertis and Lambourghinis with all sorts of custom work done. It’s looks pretty cool but let’s think of the reality of owning that sort of vehicle.

  1. Insurance costs: A cursory search online shows that a Lambourghini insurance quote ranges anywhere from $5000 to $20000 a year.
  2. Maintenance costs: Again, looking online in 2014 it cost around $30000 annually for maintain a Lambourghini. This includes a $400 oil change. And I thought my $80 oil change was expensive!
  3. The daily realities of driving this vehicle: If I were driving this car, I would be worried about getting in an accident and getting ripped off by the other person. Also, there’s the constant anxiety I would get when parking or leaving it unattended. Some kid could accidentally (or purposely) nick or scratch it while taking a picture of themselves with it to put on Instagram, ha!

This method always works pretty well for me. By the time I’m done thinking about the whole situation I’m content with letting so-and-so have their picture online for me to enjoy and having them deal with the daily reality of that picture.

Know yourself and make a plan

Using the two methods above will allow you to know what truly makes you feel happy and alive. Just because something is popular online (see above: Lambourghini example) doesn’t mean that its what would make you feel like you’re living life to the fullest. In fact, I believe if we allowed ourselves to let go of what we “should” think is cool and fun, but instead explored our own tastes and interests, we would experience so much more than what may be “trending”. So, if you find yourself lusting over someone else’s life, I mean, truly and deeply wanting to share similar experiences, then simply make a plan and allow yourself to have that. Nothing is impossible, most people just aren’t patient enough!

Log off and connect with yourself

This one is self-explanatory. If you find yourself getting worked up and obsessive about some pictures on the internet, simply log off. Do something that you like such as exercise, read, cook some food — just change the scenery. There’s no need to get stressed out about some silly pictures of someone else’s life because your life is too short to be anything but happy and beautiful as often as possible. Bring your emotions back in check and reconnect with your balance. You are what you think about and if you keep approaching life from an angle of lack and resistance, that’s what you will get. Instead, find something that expands and lifts your spirit and you’ll be back to yourself in no time.

This is my advice for ridding yourself of FOMO. Its such a silly emotion that is unfortunately so common these days, but I hope that this will help you or someone else you know start living their own beautiful life instead of observing someone else’s.

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Book Review: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This book discusses the science behind what make us content and feel that living life is worthwhile. What drew me to this book was its genuine, no-frills approach to achieving true happiness regardless of your material conditions. Anyone who knows anything about contentment knows that material conditions are secondary to our quality of life and in this book Csikszentmihalyi describes how we can enjoy more of our life, more often regardless of our current material advantages or disadvantages.

Throughout the book he shares that the key to our enjoyment is in increasing the amount of “optimal experience” or “flow” we cultivate in our lives. We’ve all experienced it in those moments when we are fully engrossed in an activity that demands our full attention to completing the task at hand. During these situations we remove ourselves from the any worrying, boredom, anxiety or any other “entropy that brings disorder to consciousness” and we enter into the world of flow where we experience psychological growth and the feeling that perfection is attainable.

He deduces that the “autotelic personality”, the person who can enjoy themselves in a multitude of situations by blocking out distractions and focusing their energies on what is relevant for the moment will describe their lives on the whole as enriching, meaningful and challenging. This experience is the polar opposite of what many people feel their lives are which is a life that “passes in a sequence of boring and anxious experiences over which a person has little control”. This is most striking in our era where we are surrounded by a staggering amount of entertainment choices that despite their novelty and cleverness, leave us unsatisfied and intangibly frustrated. The reason for this boredom and emptiness despite the explosion of leisure activities that have been invented is that when they are only engaged in vicariously and for external reasons, they absorb our psychic energy instead of strengthening it, leaving us emotionally spent and more jaded than before.

Csikszentmihalyi goes into much more detail that what I have written here about how to experience “flow” in all aspects of life from work, to relationships, to simply thinking, and the science behind it. But if this subject has intrigued you at all, I recommend that you read this work. Its made me reevaluate what I see has truly enhancing my enjoyment and utilizing my psychic energy and what is inducing psychic entropy and disorder.

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