The Joy Of Missing Out (JOMO) in 2020

— by Alexia Economou

Photograph by Penny Wincer

Happiness Experts (yes, this is a real job) are talking about JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out. As a full-time carer, I am always on a quest to find morsels of joy. And according to the dictionary, JOMO  ‘is an acronym that describes the pleasure of taking a break from social activity–especially social media–to enjoy personal time.’ Happiness researcher Gillian Mandich, describes it as the emotionally intelligent opposite of FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out. She believes it is about making meaningful choices regarding your time, in order to be content with your life, and not feeling guilty for changing course.

If you are like me, you can’t help but feel guilty when turning down friends, family or co-workers. Mandich’s advice is to, ‘Say NO, when the activity is not aligned to your morals and values, or if it will take you away from things you really want to do,’  like much-needed rest or binge-watching your favourite programme, or better using the time to accomplish your own goals. In order to release the guilt I’ve found it helpful to dwell on how beneficial reclaiming this time can be. Releasing the guilt is most important because going-back-and-forth on your decision is a total kill-joy.

Both Mandich and CEO of The Happiness Research Institute Meik Wiking, are proponents of also limiting mindless social media exposure in the pursuit of JOMO. I’d gone digital cold-turkey over the last few years thanks to my care-giving demands so, over the holidays, I opened my apps to catch up with my friends. The pictures of island paradises, romantic city breaks and yuletide merry-making left me severely deflated. I know Instagram is a curation of the best bits of people’s lives, but that knowledge didn’t stop me from feeling worse about my own. Instead, I couldn’t wait to get back to the JOMO of my self-imposed digital detox.

It is a fine balance about how much withdrawal is good for each person. The experts recommend regular, small bits because too much can lead to isolation or loneliness, which is swinging the pendulum too far the other way.

Also, purposefully seeking joy for this assignment has meant intentionally turning my focus onto the things that truly lift my spirits. Like taking the time to smell the roses – literally and figuratively. I have learned that I am not missing out on anything by eschewing a social media deep-dive for a walk in nature. I am no less ‘in-the-know’, it leaves me much happier and I now understand why the Japanese practice of shinrinyoku – or ‘forest bathing’ – is gaining popularity for health and well-being (more on that another time). This internal perspective is crucial to the practice of JOMO. Whereas FOMO makes us feel powerless because it is externally focused, building in regular moments of JOMO makes you feel more in control of your own joy. 

As we try to cocoon ourselves from a world of unpredictable politics, rogue viruses and climate collapse, I predict that JOMO will be big theme in 2020. What better excuse to fill this new decade with intentional joy rather than fear, or deprivation? We look forward to hearing about how you got your JOMO back.


Alexia Economou is a design and culture journalist, and regular That’s Not My Age contributor. Follow Alexia @thedesignfeedTW #TNMAjomo.

Photograph by Penny Wincer – this multi-talented woman has written a book on caring, Tender: the imperfect art of caring, out in June (more details HERE and on Penny’s Instagram feed HERE).

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Happiness Experts (yes, this is a real job) are talking about JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out. As a full-time carer, I am always on a quest to find morsels of joy.