3 Ways to Combat the Fear of Missing Out

Contributed by Guest Blogger, Michel Valbrun

The Story
It was all good just a week ago.

I headed to gym with plans of hitting the weights—hawrd! I marched into Planet Fitness and headed straight for the 70-pound dumbbells. I threw on my headphones and started blasting Quentin Miller’s Drake’s “Energy”. As soon as I lay on the flat bench, my Samsung Galaxy 4 fell out of my pocket and onto the floor. In my arrogance, I shrugged it off and went about my workout. On my 12th rep, I lost control of my arms and immediately threw the weights down to the ground. Through my headphones I could still hear the “6 God” playing, “…tryna take the wavvvvve…”

I look down on the ground to find my phone. As my eyes began to scan the floor, I saw a 70-pound weight sitting on top of my phone like a dumbbell rack. As I pushed the weight off the phone, I quickly picked it up and was greeted with the following image:

broken samsung

R.I.P. Samsung Galaxy 4: September 2014 – August 2016

NOOOOOOOOOO!!! My world collapsed. On top of that, I’d just paid the phone off. I stood in the gym staring at the device, hoping it would turn back on. I held the power button, took the battery out, shook the phone, even spoke to the phone… NOTHING.

I stormed out of the gym, leaving the weights on the floor (thug life), and converted my ’07 Accord into an emergency vehicle. Target was 15 minutes away from the gym; I made the trip in seven. I headed straight for the prepaid phones and purchased the cheapest device that would still allow me to snap, tweet, post and “like.” Standing in that line without a working phone made me feel naked. I sweat more in that line than I would’ve if I completed the workout. I started worrying about all the exciting posts and news I was missing out on online.

Immediately after my purchase, I tore my Galaxy apart and inserted my SIM card into the new device.

I waited…and waited…and waited some more. The screen lit up! I officially had access to everything I was missing out on in the past 37 minutes and 14 seconds.

So what did I miss?

Nothing. Well, nothing important. Just some selfies, “I’m blessed” posts and food pics. The usual social media updates. At that moment, I became aware that I had a serious problem. Through my research, I discovered I was suffering from a severe case of fear of missing out (FoMO). I took it upon myself to do some more research and figure out how to live a FoMO-free life.

The Problem:
Have you ever caught yourself doing the following?
– Texting while driving
– Having in-person conversations while looking at your phone
– Constantly pulling out your phone at concerts, restaurants and events

As the late Michael Jackson said, “You are not alone.” According to FoMO specialist Dr. Dan Herman (Yes, there is such a thing as a FoMO specialist), “70 percent of all adults experience FoMO to various degrees.”
But we can’t put all the blame on technology. These feelings and actions are not unique to this generation. In fact, people have always felt envious of what they could possibly be missing out on for centuries.

Before likes and shares, people would just hear about others “turnin’ up,” eating a fancy dinner or running into a celebrity. Since then, we’ve upped the ante and now have to deal with pictures thrown in our faces on a daily basis. The Internet now gives us instant gratification and access to visual updates from our family, friends, exes and frienemies.

To make matters worse, these visual updates last longer in our memories than when they’re presented verbally.

The Solution:

Get Out and Do Something
Before CeeLo Green was making it big as a judge on “The Voice” and telling girls, “F-U,” he was a member of Outkast’s legendary Dungeon Family. During his rapping stint, he provided the hook for Outkast’s “Git Up, Git Out.” As the title suggests, we need to get up, get out and make something of ourselves. Although the song was centered on getting a job, I imagine the modern-day version would include a couple of bars about breaking up with social media and reality TV.

Let’s face it: People have always and will continue to have fun without you. But there’s hope. You have the power to create your own experiences!

Go out and live your life.

Cut Off Distractions
According to the National Safety Council, there are 1.6 million car accidents per year due to texting (including Facebook chat and GroupMe) and driving. A recent survey from AT&T revealed that people are doing more than just texting while driving. AT&T reported about one-third admitted they emailed on their phones while driving and one-tenth said they were on Snapchat. Additionally, driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

No big surprise here, considering the fact that drunk drivers are at least looking at the road! The epidemic is real.

The word “decide” comes from the Latin decidere, which means “to cut off.” It’s time to “decidere” the technology every once in awhile. The best way to do this is to schedule blocks of time during which you plan to turn off your notifications. There are apps such as AT&T DriveMode and Silent Time that help you schedule some tech-free time.

Unleash the Power of NOW
Once you “decidere” distractions, what are you left with? Mental liberation.

One of the main concerns of FoMO is that it keeps us from being fully present in the moment. In Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now,” he discusses the importance of living in the now rather than the past or future. We’ve been wired to constantly process information and fill our brains with mental chatter. To reprogram our thinking, we have to train our brains to relax. Meditation is one of the most effective ways to do this.

According to a 2005 study on American men and women who meditated a mere 40 minutes a day showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. What this means is that their brains were aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision-making, attention and memory. Some studies have shown that meditating for even 10 minutes a day can have significant results.

In the clip below, Dan Harris, an ABC News correspondent and author of 10% Happier, discusses the neuroscience behind meditation and the benefits of making it a daily routine. In short, he believes meditation is just as important as exercise and should be part of everyone’s daily routine.

Trust me: Mediation is not just for Buddhists and weirdos. Some of the most successful people meditate, from Ellen DeGeneres to Oprah.

Don’t think you have to sit down with your legs crossed with nag champa burning around you. Sitting upright in a chair with your eyes closed is more than enough. If you’re just starting, Tara Brach has some fantastic guided meditations that you can start using today.

This was a guest blog contributed by Michel Valbrun, editor of unlockyourswag.com

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