Boredom is one way to avoid the fear of missing out. Simply don’t care about anything and have no interests. Problem solved! For those of us who aren’t really capable of feeling bored, FoMO can be a real problem. No matter what we’re doing, there is always something else going on that sounds amazing, there are always tons of choices and alternate paths, and always the potential sense of loss for the roads not taken. It can eat a hole into any experience.
Fortunately all it takes is an attitude adjustment.
There are a bunch of ways to do it:
First and most boring, we can try to remember how lucky we are that we’re doing this right now instead of, say, lying in bed with the flu, getting a root canal, or loading a moving van. Oh yeah! Suddenly I am remembering what a great day this is!
Funny how we only feel like we’re missing out on the variety of appealing options, not the depressing or scary options...
We can try to remember that no matter what we’re doing, someone somewhere else in the world is doing something equally interesting. That person might happily trade places with us. Desire for novelty is built into the human system, and in that way we have much in common with crows. Just because we can see the attraction of something else does not mean that the other thing is superior to what we have in front of us.
I had occasion to think about this while walking in London. My husband and I passed a pair of Brits. He wore a Los Angeles sweatshirt and she wore a Disneyland t-shirt. They’d gone all the way to our neighborhood at some point, because it is so great, and we had packed up and met them all the way in their neighborhood for the same reason. Hook arms and do-si-do, swing your partner round and round.
We can try to remind ourselves that we can always make plans and come back again another time. Travel is simply a question of priorities. There are tons of ways to make it happen, from relocating or working in a travel-related field to house swapping to saving money, and lots and lots more. People are doing it every day.
One way of looking at vacation FoMO is to regard it as a sign that we are enjoying ourselves and we’ve discovered something that we like. Not everyone has a passion, not everyone is very much in touch with their sense of fun or their heart’s desire. Longing to stay somewhere or to go back again is a bright blinking arrow pointing in a clear direction.
What I’m working on right now is the sense that, rather than missing out on something or anything, I’m really just constantly surrounded by almost infinite possibilities. Every time I read a book, I’m not missing out on a hundred million other books, I just happen to be into that one at that moment. Every time I have a conversation with a friend, I’m not missing out on conversations with other people, I’m just fortunate to be catching up with this particular friend at this moment. When I’m somewhere on vacation, likewise, I’m not missing out on anything.
Even though it feels that way sometimes!
This FoMO feeling, it’s insidious. It’s like a leak in the ceiling.
Everyone told us, when we asked where we should go in London, “Oh, you should definitely see the Sky Garden.” Never mind that it turned out to be booked solid for the entire window of availability. Same thing with the Buckingham Palace garden tour. If we were to shed a tear every time something like that happened on a trip, we’d never have any fun at all.
Instead we realize that a place like London is absolutely full of magnificent parks and gardens, most of which are free to visit, have no lines, and include plenty of places to sit.
We find ourselves in Kensington Gardens, with ringneck parrots landing on us and eating out of our hands, something we had no idea would be a possibility on our trip, or in this lifetime.
FoMO is a denial of serendipity. Ultimately it’s a way of trying to control that which should not always be controlled. The point of travel is to see the world the way it is, not the way we’ve imagined it from our sofa cushions at home. It works so much better when we leave room for a bit of magic. In that sense we’re only really missing out when we stay at home and refuse to disrupt our boring old routine.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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