I have recently made a commitment to replace things that aren’t good for me with things that, although sometimes I have to make them up, are truly more aligned with my constitution and my sense of well-being.
In keeping with this decision, I have decided that FOMO (fear of missing out) has got to go and that, in its place, I will officially be enjoying my newly invented acronym, JOLI (joy of leaning in).
If you’re not already familiar with the term FOMO, you’re probably not alone (I would assume my 81-year-old mother isn’t either, although she’s been known to surprise me, so I could be wrong about this), but FOMO has become such a cultural symbol of our uneasy 21st-century-human status that the acronym was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. According to a 2014 article in Forbes Magazine, FOMO is not only pervasive, it’s also fueled by social media with its constant reminder that it’s not enough simply to keep up with the Joneses; we must absolutely crush them.
FOMO can range from the obvious (like feeling compelled to go to a party on Saturday night even though you’re exhausted from gardening in the sun all day) to the more subtle (like the cat-chasing-a-shiny-thing kind of distraction you experience when you just can’t settle into what you’re doing), but common to all points along the spectrum are deep-seated feelings of dissatisfaction and disconnection.
At the root of FOMO is the sense that whatever we have, even if we are enjoying it, might still be bettered by having something else and that possibility means that we are constantly looking for that something else to have.
In essence, FOMO starts with the ideal that you have all the things you wish you had and then takes points off for all the things you don’t have until you get to where you actually are. So, no matter where you are, even if where you are is satisfying, the simple fact that where you are is missing something—anything—creates a feeling of dearth, such that wherever you are always registers as “less than.”
FOMO is driven by fear and based on assumptions that if we had what we (thought we) wanted, we’d be better off.
JOLI, on the other hand, starts with where you are and then takes stock of the good fortune in each of your blessings, so that where you are always equates to the feeling that you’re sitting on a mountain of piled-up good stuff.
JOLI makes no assumptions that anything you have can be taken for granted, which means that everything you have counts toward the pot of riches. JOLI can start with simple (yet amazing) things like being in good health, having food to eat and clothes to wear, having friends and family who care about you, having opportunities to move and speak freely—you get the picture.
JOLI can also include things like stopping to smell the honeysuckle when you are in a rush to get to work, noticing how crickets have an uncanny ability to accompany nighttime silence, enjoying the release of a really deep sigh, and marveling at how every time you take a step, the ground is always there to support your stride.
Imagine yourself trying to rattle off a list of all the things you have available to you as if none of those things was guaranteed to return to you tomorrow. JOLI, then, is an exercise in inventorying the things for which you can show appreciation.
At its core, JOLI is fueled by connection and based on the fundamental awareness that there are so many people alive at this very moment who do not have the most basic of their needs met on a regular basis and that you are not among them.
Because FOMO starts with the assumption that we are entitled to have all of the things and we fail with each thing we don’t have, FOMO is characterized by consumption, competition and constriction. But because JOLI starts with the assumption that everything we have is a gift to be enjoyed and we succeed in each thing we do have, JOLI is characterized by groundedness, gratitude and generosity.
No matter which mindset you choose to adopt, the end assessment—that you are where you are—will be the same. But while FOMO tells you that where you are is incomplete and broken, JOLI tells you that where you are is bountiful and delightful. (Plus, “joli” derives from Old French and means “lovely, smart, joyful and merry.”)
I encourage you to join me in the JOLI movement. Because we all have a choice. And the fact that we have a choice is yet another gift for which to be grateful.
Image: Amy Treasure/Unsplash
Like so many people who write their own bios to accompany their work, Sarah E. Rosenberg struggles with referring to herself in the third person. Nonetheless, she enjoys finding the space that surrounds each of life’s struggles to breathe, explore, laugh, and grow. Sarah believes in fairies, unicorns, soot sprites, and the occasional opportunity life provides to end a sentence with a preposition without fear of reproach. Find her at www.saraheverosenberg.com. She’s there right now.