Just about everyone knows what FOMO feels like. In today's ever connected, social media-saturated age, we've all experienced the fear of missing out. But, in case you haven't heard, a backlash has begun and it has an equally catchy acronym: JOMO. 

It stands for the "joy of missing out." As Hayley Phelan explains in The New York Times, "The antithesis of FOMO (fear of missing out), JOMO is about disconnecting, opting out and being O.K. just where you are."

It's turning off your notifications and breathing a sigh of relief. It's posting about staying in wearing holey pajamas rather than Instagramming your latest international getaway. And in the case of my Inc.com colleague Justin Bariso who wrote about his own JOMO epiphany, it is saying no to answering emails on vacation so you can play with your kids. 

Man, that sounds restful.

But for a lot of us in professions with always-on expectations (including entrepreneurs), it can also sound pretty impossible. But according to one expert, training yourself to grab hold of every moment of JOMO is actually pretty simple. All you need is a book. 

Training your brain to experience JOMO 

The suggestion comes from a recent Vox interview with Danish philosopher and the author of The Joy of Missing Out, Svend Brinkmann (side note: doesn't it always seem like the Danes have the best advice on how to chill out?). 

The chat delves deep into the JOMO trend, but one of the best bit comes at the end when Vice's Sean Illing asks, "Are there any simple or concrete steps people can take to at least get themselves on the path of missing out a little more?" It's a great question, and Brinkman offers a great answer. 

I ... think things like reading a novel or dwelling on the past can be genuinely useful. It's about ritualizing your life, developing habits and routines that will make it much easier to focus and to miss out on all the noise and all the distractions.

This ancient art of reading, of getting immersed in a book, is very disciplining. In a way, it's a bit like mindfulness, only you focus on something different. In mindfulness, you sort of register whatever happens in and around you. But we practice this in a different way when we read a book.

Many people have lost the ability to sit for hours and read a book. They constantly become distracted and want to check their smartphones. I do that as well. But practicing these routines are small steps we can take to learn to live within a culture that is constantly pulling us in a million different directions.

It's simple, doable advice on how to train your mind to be less like a small dog leaping up in anticipation at every rustle around her. It also has a lot of scientific backing. 

How you read conditions how you think

Neuroscientists warn that we are losing our capacity for deep reading as we steadily train our brains by jumping between 87 browser tabs and three screens. Instead of being fully immersed in a story or text, our default mode becomes skimming for the best bits. This eye-movement version of FOMO ends up affecting how we think. 

"When the reading brain skims like this, it reduces time allocated to deep reading processes. In other words, we don't have time to grasp complexity, to understand another's feelings, to perceive beauty, and to create thoughts of the reader's own," explained Harvard-trained neuroscientist Maryanne Wolfin to the Guardian.

Brinkman seems to be on to something. By forcing ourselves back into the habits of deep, slow reading, we push our eyes and brains to stop being so restless, always on the lookout for something better. That in turn nudges our brains toward appreciating what's in front of us as well. We can open ourselves to JOMO just by opening a book. 

So if you struggle to experience the new and joyful trend towards JOMO, here's one practical step to take: Just spend a little more time reading like it's 1999.  

Published on: Nov 25, 2019
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