In our November Newsletter we addressed the concept of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the dangers of being possessed by this insidious condition. In this posting we are offering ten practices that are guaranteed to help to free you from the grip of FOMO and to enhance the quality of your relationships as well as your overall level of well-being.

  1. Slow down. Most of us move at a faster velocity in our lives than is in keeping with our natural rhythm. Practice taking your time when eating, driving, talking, making love, and in engaging in the tasks of everyday living. It can be helpful to post reminders in prominent places in your home in order to remind yourself to fulfill this intention. We used to have a sign in our kitchen that simply read, “Slow down.” It worked. Enlisting the support of others, particularly those with whom you live or with whom you have close relationships can also be very helpful.
  2. Practice discernment in regard to distinguishing what is truly important and necessary from what is merely desirable, and choose to eliminate some of the things that don’t contribute to the deepening of the quality of your life experience. Be willing to say “no” to more opportunities that tug at your desires. This will provide you with more time to give to those experiences that are more deeply rewarding. Remember that more isn’t necessarily better. Focus on the kinds of things that enhance the quality not the quantity of your experiences.
  3. Go for the experience, not the symbol. There are always going to be people who we admire and perhaps envy. It’s “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. Envy can easily become resentment if we fail to recognize the opportunities that are available to us in our own lives to create experiences that are life-enhancing. Focusing on the experience (a feeling of accomplishment, adventure, connection, fun, self-respect, freedom, etc.) that underlies the object or symbol (such as wealth, marriage, a sports car, a luxurious home, etc.) helps us to distinguish what is truly fulfilling from that which can only provide a feeling of temporary pleasure. Pleasure is a wonderful thing, but an obsessive preoccupation with it can diminish our ability to experience the richer satisfaction that can come from nourishing our soul.
  4. Be willing to not have it all. Needs are finite. Desires are endless. Accepting the essential futility of trying to fulfill every desire we have is a much wiser policy than indulging all of our impulses for gratification. Prioritizing some activities enables us to let go of others. Decide what your highest priorities are and focus on them. The word “decide” comes from the Latin decidere, which means “to cut off”. Deciding what to prioritize requires us to cut off other options, but makes it possible to give greater and clearer attention to those that have heart and meaning for us.
  5. One thing at a time. Even though many of those around us are multitasking, we don’t have to. Since the 1990s, psychologists have been conducting experiments on the limits of multitasking, and the studies are conclusive. Subjects in these experiments exhibited severe interference when asked to perform even very simple tasks simultaneously. They have found that the human brain can only respond to one action request at a time. Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell describes multitasking as a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one.” When people attempt to apply themselves to too many tasks at a time, they are usually not successful. When they are focused on a single task, and give their full attention to it, not only are they more likely to be successful in producing a high quality result, but their level of satisfaction while performing the task is much higher.
  6. Practice Mindfulness. Rather than chasing after a symbol that we hope will bring us happiness, we can gently strive for the deep satisfaction that comes with the cultivation of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and giving non-judging awareness to our moment to moment experience. Rather than desperately seeking rock star recognition, cultivate the art of mastery of the enjoyment of simple pleasures. Sylvia Boorstein’s book, Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There, provides lots of insights into how you can integrate this practice into your life.
  7. Prioritize relationships over acquisitions. In terms of your level of well-being, quality relationships trump quantity of possessions and experiences every time.  Investing time and energy in relationships and cultivating the skills that great relationships require may be one of the best things that you can do to bring higher levels of fulfillment into your life, which is a wonderful antidote to the compulsive activity that characterizes FOMO.
  8. Savor the moment. Take time to linger over pleasurable experiences rather than rushing through them in quest of the next thrill. Really smell the coffee (and the roses and the other delightful scents that you encounter).  Take the time to thoroughly take pleasure in the sensory delights that enter into your field of awareness and cultivate the fine art of savoring the tastes, sights, sounds, and other sensations that you encounter in your daily life.
  9. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Instead of chasing fantasies that we believe will fulfill us, practice gratitude. Doing so enables us to more deeply appreciate what we have rather than focusing on what we lack or desire. FOMO is fear about not having something that is necessary for our well being. Gratitude allows us to count the blessings that are  present right now, in this moment, where life is going on.
  10. Enjoy the process! Integrating these practices into your life can be a blessing and an opportunity, rather than a series of obligations. Let yourself enjoy the heightened level of relaxation and ease that comes into being as you gift yourself with these pleasures. It’s not just you, but it’s everyone in your life that benefits from losing your FOMO!