After explaining the concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) to my dad, he laughed and said, “Yeah, at my age, I’m pretty much over that.” Then he paused for a minute and said, “Or am I?”
Regardless of age or circumstance, FOMO can wave over anyone and leave you dripping with the feeling that something is missing from your life. And social media keeps those waves coming all day long. Elder David A. Bednar spoke about the dangers of FOMO when he said:
“Much has been said about how ‘fear of missing out’—or FOMO as it is often referred to—can make it difficult for us to appreciate our current circumstances and environments. This is especially true as people tend to share only the best parts of their family lives and careers with us on social media.”
Fortunately, however, FOMO has a much more charming twin sister. I discovered her while scrolling through Instagram the night after I talked to my dad:
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@brenebrown posted about JOMO and it really spoke to me. Instead of feeling like you’re missing out, approach everything as a choice. . Big changes came to my family this week and this month has been intense. Sports overlap, dance recitals and auditions, work opportunities, church responsibilities, school programs, and school projects that require you to be at school everyday 🙄...I’m not sure how much more my nerves can take. . Learning to say NO or “this isn’t the right time” can be a challenge for some. But it can really help you discover what matters most to you. I can proclaim to the world that there is JOY from missing out! Even if it feels like you’re the only one who missed out. Especially, when diet culture is involved. . So tell me, have you experienced JOMO recently? . . . #brenebrown #jomo #fomo #intuitiveeating #healthateverysize #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #mentalhealth #antidiet
Wait, the joy of missing out? I immediately tapped on the post to learn more. As I read more, I was surprised when a familiar scripture came to mind:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Could this catchy internet acronym be expressing a principle of the gospel? I think so. JOMO encourages us to be grateful for our lives as they are right now and focus on what really matters most. There is a joy to be found in not doing everything. Loving that you are missing out on something shows your life has a clear focus. President Nelson's message in the October 2016 conference was all about the relationship between joy and focus. He said:
"My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives."
JOMO could not have introduced herself at a better time: the summer months always bring a strong wave of FOMO as it seems that everyone but you heads out for adventures around the world. Now is a perfect time to explore JOMO and let it overtake your FOMO. To help you get started, here are two stories prophets have shared that illustrate elements of the journey from FOMO to JOMO. Then-President Uchtdorf shared this experience in the October 2012 conference.
"My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
"However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
"Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, 'Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.'
"How right she is!
"Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
“We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. 'This is the day which the Lord hath made,' the Psalmist wrote. 'Rejoice and be glad in it.'
"I pray that we will not wait until we are ready to die before we truly learn to live."
Elder Uchtdorf knows that part of living on the JOMO side of things is not getting too caught up in wishing for the future. Joy is found by living in the present.
Next, President Monson shares how the focus that comes with JOMO makes every day a special occasion, even if you never leave your hometown this summer.
"I recently read the account of a man who, just after the passing of his wife, opened her dresser drawer and found there an item of clothing she had purchased when they visited the eastern part of the United States nine years earlier. She had not worn it but was saving it for a special occasion. Now, of course, that occasion would never come.
"In relating the experience to a friend, the husband said, 'Don’t save something only for a special occasion. Every day in your life is a special occasion.'
"That friend later said those words changed her life. They helped her to cease putting off the things most important to her. Said she: 'Now I spend more time with my family. I use crystal glasses every day. I’ll wear new clothes to go to the supermarket if I feel like it. The words ‘someday’ and ‘one day’ are fading from my vocabulary. Now I take the time to call my relatives and closest friends. I’ve called old friends to make peace over past quarrels. I tell my family members how much I love them. I try not to delay or postpone anything that could bring laughter and joy into our lives. And each morning, I say to myself that this could be a special day. Each day, each hour, each minute, is special.'”
Don't believe what Instagram teaches: you don't have to cliff jump in Greece or stroll through the Palace of Versailles to make each day special. Do believe that the Savior teaches us the way to have life and to "have it more abundantly." Maybe occasional waves of FOMO are inevitable, but the more we remember JOMO, the faster we can find the joy of realizing every day is a special occasion.