Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) sprang from popular culture and is fuelled by carefully curated social media posts. It commonly relates to highly prized events or experiences such as an out-of-town music festival, dining at the chicest new eatery or purchasing the latest smartphone. But what about the small, delightful moments; the ‘tranquil mind’ moments we miss when we’re completely consumed by our thoughts? Could we twist FOMO into a new shape – ditch the anxiety – and apply some zest to missing less of the everyday, which would in turn enrich our lives.
Ruminating about the past, worrying about the future and judging ourselves and others are universal tactics our minds employ to wrench us from the ‘now’ and dump us nowhere. When we find ourselves in this state, not only are we unhappy; we’re closed off to life’s opportunities for joy, connection, creativity and insight.
Just recently, knowing it was probably the last sunny day for a while, my husband and I took a picnic blanket to our local park to relax. The scene had all the elements: a clear blue sky, lush green grass and life in all its forms - birds, children, lovers and the elderly. There were even people jousting! (Minus the spears and horses). But after responding to a couple of work emails, I was so engrossed by my thoughts I could no longer enjoy the afternoon. I may as well have been on a long haul flight, in economy, middle seat. That’s how enclosed and lacklustre I felt. Not to mention I was very poor company.
Conversely, what or who you encounter when you’re truly present can be so unexpected, life- affirming and revealing. Just this week, while driving along a busy main road, I noticed a young school boy enthusiastically practicing his robot dance at the bus stop. Coming home one night with a bag of groceries, I walked past a possum hanging so low on a branch we were literally eye to eye. And at my regular lunch place, an office worker wandered in with a 12-inch-high hairdo – a mohawk/quiff combo. When we’re present, there are bits of each and every day to embrace and savour.
So how can we get a grip on our thoughts and grab more of the small moments?
Don’t worry about worry
When you’re tangled in your head, acknowledge and accept this reality instead of berating yourself. Remember, most importantly - you’ve been here before and ‘this too shall pass’.
Channel your wise owl
Remind yourself that life is finite. (You can’t internally debate that one!) Then ask the question: is ‘lost in thought’ how you want to spend unique, unrecoverable moments? Once you’ve answered NO in a rich baritone voice, return to the here and now.
Get some solar perspective
Looking at an image to scale of the eight planets in our solar system is very humbling and illustrates how miniscule our thoughts really are.
Move it to lose it
If you can muster the energy, a walk, run, weights or yoga is an excellent way to refocus. Otherwise, completing some ‘out and about’ tasks can be an effective way to engage your senses and kick troublesome thoughts to the curb.
Remember it’s not just about you
These missed moments often happen socially. You might find yourself heavily distracted when you’re with friends, family or colleagues who need your attention. Because you cannot connect, support and generally be there when your mind isn’t, use your relationships to motivate you to become more present.