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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    The Misleading Joy of Missing Out

    The difference between the rush of FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out, and the more subtle Joy Of Missing Out, can mean the difference between entering a state of anxiety or relaxation. Yet, recent research on JOMO has raised questions about its impact on our mental health; many people are finding that what appears to be a “joyful” respite can quickly become just a reprieve from stress, often at the cost of true happiness and contentment.

    The feeling of JOMO is most often associated with a sense of relief when we opt out of attending a social event or gathering. Faced with an invitation to a party, an outing with friends, or a group activity, it can be daunting to navigate these choices. Do we force ourselves to feel comfortable, even if we’re feeling anxious, or bow out gracefully? Many people choose the later and reap the benefits of the satisfaction of taking a break from social pressures.

    But, in those brief moments of solitude, a new kind of fear arises – fear of the pleasure of being with the company of others, fear of missing out on life’s joys and opportunities. Coupled with this fear is an underlying guilt for opting out when others are not, a feeling of inadequacy that can lead to feeling like one is not fitting in. This fear is further amplified by the belief that going out will bring no pleasure and that joy can only be derived from other activities or moments.

    FOMO and JOMO are two different beasts, yet they share a common thread: both the Fear Of Missing Out and the Joy Of Missing Out are built upon a false notion that joy and pleasure can only come from one or the other. The conventional wisdom holds that if we turn down an invitation, we’ve avoided a source of anxiety or stress, but there is no guarantee of true joy or happiness. It can be misleading to assume that by doing something we don’t want to do or attending an event we don’t enjoy will somehow bring (or deny) us paradise.

    The reality is that both FOMO and JOMO contain unintended psychological effects that we should consider in our daily lives. Whether you’re choosing to join in on the latest craze or opting out for a night to yourself, it’s important to approach both FOMO and JOMO with consideration and balance. Research tells us that the best path lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes: learning to weigh the pros and cons of both experiences and seeking moments of comfort – be it alone or in the company of others. Although research suggests that feeling JOMO may be healthier than feeling FOMO, it’s important to remember that joy and peace can be found in both the joy of missing out, and the fear of missing out.

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