The feeling of scarcity — that there is a finite number of “good” things to experience and enjoy in life — has become so omnipresent that we now have an acronym for it, FOMO (fear of missing out), as well as its opposite, JOMO (joy of missing out). FOMO tends to be unhealthy. But how do we get to JOMO or to what I call JOBA, the Joy Of Being Alive?
Emotions drive us. The word emotion comes from the French word “émotion,” which comes from the Latin emovere — i.e., to move, agitate, or stir up. Emotions are what get us to act.
On one side of the emotional spectrum is fear. Fear helps us stay away from hurtful people and situations. But staying too long in fear can be harmful, pumping us with hormones that help us react quickly in case of danger but which eventually drain our bodies. Fear disconnects us from ourselves, and from the world.
On the other side of the spectrum is joy, which, I think, is further out on the spectrum of emotions than are peace and happiness. I feel peaceful, for example, when I have my finances in order, exercise regularly, or live in a safe environment. And I feel happy if I succeed in an arduous task that I’ve invested a lot of energy in — say, running a marathon, climbing a mountain, or launching a business.
Joy, however, is more subtle, and yet it is also more “simple.” I feel joy when I remember myself as a five-year-old singing under the rain, feet in my new boots, testing out my new tiny umbrella, in the center of the courtyard of the farm where I grew up; or witnessing my nephew walking his first steps; or hearing the chants of the whales underwater in Hawaii; or letting my fingers paint whatever my heart wants to get on paper; or letting my body dance freely to the sound of music; or giving hugs to my friends.
Joy is the feeling of reuniting with the people we love. Joy is receiving a letter from a long forgotten friend. Joy is following our heart to give a hand to an elderly lady struggling to get up the stairs of the subway. Joy is letting go of the voices of judgment and letting ourselves create freely. Joy is free, and it is linked to a deep sense of connection — with ourselves and with the world. When we are in a state of joy, the nagging voices in our head have disappeared.
I don’t like the term JOMO because I believe that when we are fully engaged in what we love, we don’t even feel that we are missing out. We are fully happy.
Do you miss not having watched that TV show when you’ve had a great time watching Hamilton on Broadway? Do you feel like you’re missing out on having dinner with your family when you have had a great time with your neighbors last night? Or vice versa? When we act out of joy, we are following our hearts, and we are fully aligned with our missions and alive. So maybe we should replace JOMO with what I call JOBA: joy of being alive.
Unfortunately, fear, pressure, and scarcity often take predominance over love and joy — FOMO overpowering JOBA.
True, life is not always joyful. But can we tap into more empowering emotions to act? Can we move from the fear of not hitting our sales targets to the joy of growing our business? Can we move from the fear of putting on weight to the happiness of loving ourselves better? Can we move from the fear of running out of money to the feeling of managing our finances thoughtfully?
A lot of fears are created when we were younger, but we are now older and are more able to defend ourselves and make sense of the world. Maybe, say, the fear of not “belonging” that appeared when we had to belong in a close community doesn’t apply now that we can freely choose our friends. Or maybe the fear of not being “enough,” that appeared when growing up with physically or emotionally absent parents, doesn’t apply now that we can give ourselves the affection we need.
Moving from FOMO to JOBA is possible when we shine light on ourselves, look within, start questioning our actions, find what is getting us to act, find deeply rooted fears and reassess if these are still valid, move pass them so that we can fully embrace our gifts, connect with ourselves and the world around us, and — at last — fully feel the Joy Of Being Alive.