Discover The Joy of Missing Out in an Overstimulating Society
By Erika Hoopes 27 December 2019
When you ask someone how they are, how often does the conversation go something like this:
How was your week? Busy.
How’s work? Oh you know, busy.
How was your trip? Yeah good. Busy.
Seems like the typical smalltalk answer to “How are you?” has changed from “I’m good” to “I’m busy.” As though busy is the new standard, the new cool.
Does it actually feel good to be so busy that we rarely get a moment to ourselves? Maybe not, but in a fast-paced, modern world, we sometimes forget that we have a choice. We’re accustomed to living with constant entertainment: endless ways to learn more, experience more, do more, be more. It’s normal to be busy. How else do we fit it all in?
The Generation of Information Overload
In modern city life we process more information in one week than people living 150 years ago processed in a lifetime. We digest the equivalent of 174 newspapers/day. Bouncing back and forth between smartphone to laptop to real conversation to work to TV to street signs to billboards to fitbit to social gathering to book to podcast to apple watch -- this a typical day for us.
We’ve become addicted to stimulation. Which is why it’s not surprising that every free moment we have, we reach for the phone and bounce between news to instagram to email to whatsapp to youtube. Anything to give our brains more. Anything to avoid doing nothing. Our brains have evolved to absorb it all.
But at what cost?
Busyness Takes its Toll
Being busy makes us more prone to multi-tasking, to being less creative, to forgetting our priorities, to feeling overwhelmed, dissatisfied, inadequate. It’s exhausting, and over time endangers our mental and physical health.
Busyness leaves us constantly going somewhere, reaching for something, but never arriving.
How do we arrive?
JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out
We can give ourselves permission to miss out on something we think we should do or see or know. As Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron reminds us, “it’s a transformative experience to simple pause instead of immediately fill up the space.”
Let’s leave the space open. When our boss asks us to work extra hours, let’s say no. When we get invited to another event after an already hectic week, let’s stay home. And at home when tempted by netflix, the internet, that world of opportunity at our fingertips, let’s put down our phones.
Then what? We can pause and breathe. We can let go of the need to do something. We can notice everything that’s already happening without our doing. We can close our eyes, turn inward, and feel the spaciousness inside and around us. With practice, we can recondition our brains to appreciate simplicity.
Through missing out, saying no, and slowing down in a world that keeps pushing us forward, we start to become aware of parts of ourselves that have been hiding or straggling behind. With fresh eyes, we can attend to ourselves, and free ourselves from that never-ending quest for more. We can finally arrive. To a place of connection and contentment. A place where instead of busy, our week was “fulfilling,” our work is “challenging” or “inspiring,” and our trips are “exciting” and “exhilarating.” A place where we can know and feel the joy of just being alive.
Keep me up to date