Dealing With the Fear of Missing Out.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 8.52.45 AMThe fear of “missing out” is something that govern’s a lot of people’s choices, and how they spend their time. This fear has been doing that for a long time, but it has possibly never been more ever-present than now. It is a principle that advertisers prey upon ruthlessly. You don’t want to miss out on this exciting new episode on TV tonight. You don’t want to miss out on seeing this highly-reviewed series on Netflix. You don’t want to be without this “must-have” item. If you don’t take this vacation on our resort, you’re missing out. The fear of missing out is everywhere. It’s what keeps some people constantly checking their email, their phones, their Facebook and Twitter feeds, or other things.

We have a blessing and a curse in the modern age – there is just so much stuff to do! However, while discovering and implementing simple living, I re-learned some wisdom that I once heard as a child. The wisdom contained in the song – “The Circle of Life”

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found

So, what does this mean for us? We as humans naturally want all the great experiences we can get, and we have a fear of missing out. Well, in one sense, this is bad news for us – We are GOING to miss out. That’s just the way things are. Of course, that begs the question of how we’re supposed to deal with missing out on all this stuff. Ironically, I believe that the answer is to relax. The next thing you’re worried about missing out on, trying to cram it into your schedule…don’t worry about it too much.

Don’t let chasing awesome things rule your life. It’s not worth it. Life will just keep producing amazing experiences. It’s been doing it for thousands of years. It’ll keep doing it, even if you never DO get around to watching that one show on Netflix.

From that perspective, the fact that there is “more to do than can ever be done” is quite beautiful. Even if you do miss out on some things, you still have a full life ahead of you. Missing out isn’t something to truly be afraid of. We should appreciate how much there is to enjoy.

I’ve thought quite a bit about this, actually. It seems that no matter what hobby or passion you may have, there’s a lifetime of content and things to do involved in it. I’ve already mentioned Netflix – many people have discovered the perils of drowning themselves in the ocean of shows on Netflix, otherwise known as “Netflix Binge Watching.” And new shows are being produced all the time – which means that the backlog of shows that you haven’t watched just gets bigger every year. The video gaming community just keeps coming out with new games, and many people spend the entirety of their free time exploring what those games have to offer. The entertainment industry keeps coming out with new songs you haven’t heard. The political world has enough news and events and causes to rally for to take up the full time of anyone who wishes to delve so deep into that (not to mention that it seems to have a natural tendency to sap the life and happiness from those who do). I am sure that there’s a church or charity in your area that could take as much of your time as you’re willing to donate.

There are more hobbies to develop than you can even scratch the surface of.  You can spend years learning to be a master photographer, and there are so many sights to see that you could spend your entire life doing just that. There are any number of things you could enjoy learning – tennis, skateboarding, crocheting, painting, origami, sewing, woodcarving, yoga, archery, hiking, motor sports, parkour, rock climbing, roller skating, swimming, dancing…the list goes on and on. And that’s not even mentioning how many subcategories there are within each of those activities. For example, dancing: you have swing dancing, ballroom dancing, salsa dancing, break dancing, interpretive dancing, flamenco dancing, etc, etc., etc.

So, in the end, my conclusion is simply to not be afraid of focusing on what you want most. Life will keep throwing distractions at you – it’s really good at that – but those with the discipline to keep working on their true priorities in life will find a way through all those distractions. Now, I’m not telling you to “miss out” on every new thing that comes your way – especially if you are able to enjoy these things with your family – the skill of moderation is an important one. I believe that moderation can help in the practice of minimalism, too.  For example – perhaps you can reduce the amount of dinnerware that you keep even further, but it would actually make your life harder, rather than simpler. In that case, don’t do it! (That’s my personal opinion, anyway.)

Many activities that might otherwise be a “waste of time” can turn into cherished experiences when done in moderation and with other people. For one example, binge watching a show on Netflix might just get in the way of the goals you’re really trying to work on, and not move you any further ahead in your life. However, watching an episode once a week with your family might be a great shared bonding experience. Now this is just an example, and should be modified to what’s best for you. I would also suggest having some variety in your family bonding experiences, as well as some good traditions.

Anyways, I hope you found something in this blog that you enjoyed, or that you found useful. Remember – life’s a great adventure with more to do than can ever be done, more to see than can ever be seen – and that’s beautiful.  The practice of minimalism has actually enhanced my ability to see and appreciate all of that beauty and adventure. I hope it can do the same for you.

One thought on “Dealing With the Fear of Missing Out.

  1. Zim

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