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FOMO or JOMO Fearful or joyful — your choice for a happy life

This article is from the March 2020 Horse Deals magazine.

Amanda Jefferys

Amanda Jefferys

Horse ownership and being part of this wonderful sport has incredible bonuses with friendships based on mutual interest and growth, but unfortunately also has the potential of grasping our well-being with a major pitfall. Modern society has certain phenomena, such as the development of the now infamous ‘fear of missing out’, known as FOMO.

Indeed, recent studies have identified as many as ¾ of young adults reported experiencing this phenomenon with an unhealthy comparison of themselves with others. Of course, this comparison is known to be detrimental to well-being, and more importantly, undermines our very happiness.


What is this modern curse FOMO? FOMO is defined as “the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out — on what your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.”
This creates feelings of anxiety (sometimes a frenetic anxiety), and drives behaviours including (but not limited to) constantly checking on what others are doing — and the relatively new influx of social media use is a particular hazard as we measure our own experiences against the perfect lives, images and fun that others are perceived to be enjoying. Social media making this checking behaviour ever more frequent and available as our devices are so freely available.

Interestingly, the checking behaviour does little to alleviate the anxiety, indeed it reinforces the checking by creating a negative loop circuit where the checking alleviates some feelings in the very short term, quickly to escalate and require further checking. Often the outcome is feelings of being trapped by needing to fulfil or search or validate some odd piece of information.

Traps can be identified by your own personal use — if you find yourself reaching for your phone first thing, during your workday and before bed, consider how much happiness this behaviour truly replenishes you — your heart and your soul feeling happy and fulfilled with the additional knowledge and insights gained. Also consider your personal use when you are with your precious children, close family or friends.

Research findings indicate low levels of competence, autonomy and relatedness, a reduction on mood, and overall life satisfaction correlate closely to higher levels of FOMO.

Social Media

Social media is great, we can stay in touch in so many forms, easily embrace events, catch up with friends and encourage social connection, all of which is so beneficial in our busy lives. However, the downside is entrapment in idealistic false images portrayed by influencers, and false metrics of success, which are never the goal. The influence of those we know (or know of) portraying a life of perfection has no basis in any reality.

As such a scroll and compare behaviour encourages negativity in our thinking, and diminishes our own human spirit, undermining our sense of self and self-concept.


So is there a solution, a change from FOMO to the now growing trend of JOMO (joy of missing out)? I have spoken frequently of happiness and joy, tuning outwards for your happiness is never the answer, and awareness and being decisive of what your life encompasses is worthy. Staying connected to your ‘real’ self, being open and authentic with others, creating opportunity for true and valued connection all fill our human spirit with the potential for joy and happiness.

Happiness at what we are achieving, the ability to laugh at myself on a rough day, realising we don’t all look that beautiful sanitised image on Instagram first thing in the morning!

For me, it’s real-life versus fake life, see this with awareness.

Life remains a roller coaster — look at the events of this year alone; tragedy and triumph, shining beacons of human spirit at its best — the opportunity for growth, love and connectedness.

How game are you to reflect and take action?

with Dr Amanda Jefferys Registered Clinical and Health Psychologist. B. Psych (Hons). M Health Psych. Doctorate of Clinical and Health Psych. FCCLP, FCHP, MAPS. Registered Fitness Professional.

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