The Joy of Missing Out

Silver Linings in Dark Times, and Reclaiming Our Power in 2020

2020 certainly isn’t the year we wanted… but is it what we needed? Is this the slower life we’ve been needing for decades?

For what felt like the entirety of the 2010s, my life was a blur — a train that started running at a fast pace, but accelerated even further as time went on. Faster, and faster, and faster… until I was thrown off that train completely. It was then I caught my break (a little earlier than those who did in 2020), and I got a glimpse — a perspective between the old hyperspeed life and the new decelerated one I’ve built. And I know I’m not the only one who’s had this lightbulb epiphany.

The pace of our digitized, maximally optimized and “efficient” lives led millions into a mental health crisis, and that was before the mental health crisis brought on by a global pandemic and quarantine. We just couldn’t slow down, we couldn’t allow ourselves to take a break. Until, of course, we were brought to a screeching halt.

Yes, we miss our friends. Yes, we miss our routines. Yes, this all around actually sucks. Our friends and family members are sick and dying. The US has more cases of COVID-19 and more related deaths than any other country in the world. We’re losing business and money, we’re losing traction on our careers, and losing jobs outright. There’s the pandemic, there’s the new recession, there’s the political civil war, there’s the racial injustice

The point of homing in on the silver lining is not to marginalize our pain. In the words of the great spiritual leader and yogi Seane Corn, “You have to get through the ‘f*ck you’ to get to the ‘bless you.’” So don’t bypass the pain you’re feeling — really feel it — but then, as quickly as you’re able, move yourself right on over to the gratitude stage. And that’s where you’ll find the silver lining. The JOMO.

JOMO is FOMO’s more optimistic, more confident, less insecure sister. The joy of missing out allows us to relish in what we do have, rather than what we don’t. Whereas FOMO instills in us a feeling of separateness, otherness, and lacking, JOMO allows us confident independence, self sufficiency, and gratitude for the beauty of the here and now.

Rather than pining for what could be, what was, or what isn’t, we embrace what is — the present moment, the current situation, our state of being — and find all that is wonderful about it. As Eckhart Tolle put it, “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love — even the most simple action.”

So what present-moment awareness can JOMO bring us now?

We’ve been forced to pause. A pause that our bodies and brains have been literally begging us for (for years) has finally happened. And with that pause, comes many gifts.

More time to reflect. More time to care for ourselves. Time for long baths, journaling, gardening, learning. Time to meditate and stretch and vinyasa flow in our living rooms. Time to cook and meal plan and organize our kitchens and pantries. More stillness. More quiet. More calm.

Fewer distractions. Fewer obligations on the calendar. Less sitting in traffic. Less racing to get somewhere. Less time squished between strangers on the mobile sardine can known as public transportation.

Less running, more walking (metaphorically speaking).

And as for all that separateness that FOMO brings? There is only unity with the JOMO of 2020. Even in its pain, in its struggle, in its excruciating deconstruction of a life we once knew… there is unity. “We’re all in this together,” is no longer a cliché, rather a literal reality.

Again — this year is painful. To ignore that would be a mistake that would skip over a crucial step in our healing, rendering us stuck and wounded. Do not bypass it. You have to feel it in order to reach this level of healing in which you can embrace joy. A couple weeks ago, therapist Nina Westbrook told me “we have to find joy in chaos.” And while JIC (joy in chaos) might not have the same Gen-Z zing as JOMO, the concepts are the same.

Embrace the gifts that “Missing Out” has given to you. Focus on the new, while releasing the old as best you can. These words are easily said (and typed), much less easily executed. Practice this daily, hourly. Remind yourself constantly. Write it down. Make it a mantra. Find power in JOMO.

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