I was feeling down the other day because I wouldn't get to fly to spend Thanksgiving with relatives like I usually do. And then after some fleeting moments of feeling sorry for myself, I realized how fortunate I am for all that I do have--and the negative feelings melted away.
My shifting mindset reminds me of two acronyms popular in the current zeitgeist.
You may have heard of FOMO--the fear of missing out--the worry that you're missing out on something super cool that everyone else is doing either in real life or on social media. But FOMO doesn't make as much sense in a 2020 context, when most of us are hunkering down at home as much as possible because of the pandemic.
Rather, I prefer a new term rising in popularity, considered, in fact, the antidote to FOMO. It's called JOMO--the joy of missing out--defined as a feeling of contentment with one's own pursuits and activities, without worrying about the possibility of missing out on what others may be doing in real life or online.
For instance, JOMO is staying home from a party and feeling secure and content about that decision. And JOMO, too, is putting a stop to obsessing about everyone else's seemingly perfect lives on their Facebook or Instagram posts.
Almost eight months into the pandemic, with the High Holidays in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's an ideal time to shift into the JOMO mindset, looking less for external rewards and reinforcement, and focusing more intentionally and introspectively.
British motivational speaker Jay Shetty outlines the concept of JOMO in the word "TIME." "T," he says, stands for "thankfulness," the belief that we should feel grateful for everything and everyone we have, rather than longing for more things. The "I" is for "inspiration," and the belief that there is inspiration all around us if we're open to it. The "M," according to Shetty, represents "meditation." This could be the actual daily practice of meditation--like yoga for instance--or a looser definition such as simply devoting five minutes in the day to peace and quiet over a cup of tea. Finally, the "E," he says, is for "exercise." Again, exercise could mean a rigorous running regimen or just a dance party to your favorite music at the end of a long day.
The concept of JOMO feels inherently Jewish. Being more mindful, intentional, and grateful about what we're fortunate to have--as opposed to looking outward for what we don't have--lies at the heart of who we are as Jews. For instance, we express thanks to God for waking up every day, for the souls we embody, for the illness we survive, and for so much more.
The great Jewish sage Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel talks about mindfulness and gratitude in one of my favorite quotes: "Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement," he said. "…Get up every morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed."
So, as we approach Thanksgiving 2020, in a year in which our holiday tables are bound to look different for many of us than in years past, let's focus less on what we're missing out on.
Rather, let's focus on the joy of what we do have--and take nothing for granted.