Sometimes, it’s really hard to resist the lure of the sparkly world. To pull back and get quiet and let the mind and the body relax. There’s just so much out there. So many delights. So many worthwhile, joyful ways to connect with fascinating people. So many wonderful, wild, exciting, ridiculous, annoying, distracting, and completely consuming things going on. I want to gobble it all up.
But I tell you, sometimes it wears me out. I mean really, wears-me-out. It’s exhausting just trying to keep up with happenings in Orlando, much less “do” a tiny part of it all. I worry that this is an aging issue, and it probably is, but I’m going to avoid going there—at least for a couple of paragraphs.
The point I want to make is not a new one, but I go on record with those who complain about the over-stimulated lives most of us lead. We are presented daily with so many dazzling opportunities that ramp up our desire to be a part of the busy world of buzz and bling. Being “out there and in it” makes us feel alive and connected. Who doesn’t want to be involved?
So Friday, the end of a busy week at LifeArt Studio, I checked Facebook and saw my friends doing such fun things: the Conductor’s Crawl, Wine and Food Festival at Disney, patio parties with exotic appetizers and cocktails, Snap! After Dark, an opening at the Gallery on Avalon Island, Autumn Art Festival VIP preview event, Zebra running event, and dozens more.
I could feel my heart racing, my excitement about all the options, my desire to see friends and support projects, my need to be in the know, to be a part of the group, to be someone who cares. All good drives, when managed appropriately.
But there’s a dark underbelly to this need to feel alive and connected to the outside world. And this dark underbelly is called Facebook. It can lead to an unpleasant tumble into the FOMO pit. Fear of Missing Out. Ever been there? It’s not pretty. It can stimulate those less healthy emotions we all fall prey to: anxiety, urgency, neediness, insufficiency. “If I don’t get out there and do something, see someone, be seen by someone, I WILL BE A COMPLETE LOSER! “ Yeah, that’s not a pretty place to go.
So yes, of course it’s good to get out and about and have fun with friends. It’s very good. But these days, I have to be discerning about where, to whom, and to what I give my precious life energy. It’s a finite thing, at least as it appears in this physical body. So I have to be judicious about the way I spend it. I know the principles by which I want to live: being focused and calm; living easefully and graciously; moving mindfully and powerfully through the moments of my day. On Friday night, after a wonderfully productive and happy week, I was exhausted. I needed to be quiet, relax, and refuel mind, body, and spirit. The plan was to stay home and do just that. But the lure of all the shiny things on Facebook was really strong. I thought, if I hurry, I can make the opening toast at Snap!
And then I remembered: When I rush, when I fall into urgency, when I over-work, over-do, or push, I am less happy than I want to be, less productive than I know I can be, and less satisfied with my personal relationships.
Martha Beck is a well-known therapist who writes for O Magazine. Lucky for me, on Friday night, just when I was about to succumb to FOMO, I picked up an article of hers that had been on my desktop for several days: “5 Pieces of Advice Everyone Ignores (but Shouldn’t!)” As I contemplated whether to take a shower and get dressed for a night out or go downstairs and consume large quantities of chocolate, I read the article. Funny how the universe will stop you in your tracks just when you most need to be stopped. (Ignore such nudges at your own peril.) Beck presents a list of 5 items she calls her very best advice to clients, most of which apply to my FOMO funk. They are:
1. What leaves you feeling bad, do less of. What leaves you feeling good, do more of.
2. To achieve bigger goals, take smaller steps.
3. Lie down and rest for a while.
4. When you don’t know what to say, try the truth.
5. Free yourself from dysfunctional people by refusing to try to control them.
Did I ever need to see this list. I went for the chocolate. Then, I took a nice, long bath with lavender epsom salts, followed by a short mantra meditation guided by the soothing music of Deva Premal. I shut out the world and dipped into quiet. Letting the Conductor’s Crawl go on without me, I happily dropped my grasping for all the sparkly things.
And suddenly (snap!), FOMO turned into JOMO: the Joy of Missing Out.