Everyone wants to lead a happy life. Comparing yourself to others to gauge your satisfaction, however, often leads to restlessness or disappointment due to the fear of missing out. In a culture that turns happiness and fulfillment into virtues, FOMO can drive people to overcommit, resulting in exhaustion or burnout. Consequently, this reaction often has the exact opposite of its intended effect.
The good news is that there are several ways you can fight FOMO. Your own contentment doesn’t have to depend on other people’s lives. By incorporating the following practices into your own, you set yourself up to enjoy the experiences you do have without worrying about how much better life could be.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Making a list of the things for which you are thankful is a useful habit to adopt. Whether you choose to start your morning with this practice or make it a part of your nightly routine, being intentional about noticing the good things in your life yields several benefits:
- Better sleep
- Less stress
- Decrease in materialism
- Enhanced positive moods
Gratitude has a positive correlation with resilience. Even when you see the good fortune of others or view pictures of a past event that looks like it would have been fun to attend, you can maintain your own peace of mind with the awareness of the wonderful things in your own life. Just by slightly shifting your attention to the blessings that you do have, you leave less time for fretting about what you are missing.
Limit Social Media Scrolling
Social media has many positive benefits. It can help keep you connected to friends and family even when they are far away, and you can use it to stay informed about your favorite causes. An overreliance on social media, however, can exacerbate FOMO. When you have a rough day, a quick scroll through your feed may highlight fun experiences that you wish you were having rather than provide the connection you long for.
One way to combat these negative thoughts is to remember that you are only viewing a small portion of others’ lives. Many people curate their social media posts carefully, focusing on the most exciting parts of the day or the experiences they want to remember the most. Even if you do want to analyze whether you are missing something important, putting every moment of your life up against their highlight reels still does not provide an accurate comparison.
Pay attention to how you feel when you scroll through your feed. If the negative thoughts outweigh the positive ones, it may be time to make some changes. You don’t have to delete your accounts, although some people report experiencing remarkable benefits from doing so. Simply putting a limit on the amount of time you spend on each platform can significantly reduce FOMO.
Confront Negative Thoughts
Your therapist or counselor may want you to dive a bit deeper when addressing your fears. Rather than avoid input that inspires negative thoughts, take note of when you experience them. While this may seem counterintuitive at first, by confronting the underlying concern that produces FOMO, you may be more likely to ultimately rise above it.
When you recognize that you are having the feelings of jealousy or rejection that are common with FOMO, look for the limiting beliefs that are at the core of those emotions. What do you feel you are lacking in your life? What story are you telling yourself about what missing out on this particular occasion means? Once you address these issues, the fear to which they lead often goes away.
Fear of missing out is a common experience, but it’s not a pleasant one. If FOMO tends to consume your thoughts, these tips can help you combat it.