Overcome the “Fear of Missing Out”

In 2013 the word FOMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The Fear Of Missing Out is the “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere”. College students and young adults have a reputation for being severely afflicted with FOMO. As a freshman I wrecked my health by depriving myself of sleep to pack my day (and night) with excitement: pizza runs at 2am, all-night gaming, road trips and over-the-top pranks. But, it’s not just young adults who suffer. Sometimes FOMO plagues us all. Families pack weekend after weekend with serial sporting events and leave little room for spiritual or relational nourishment. FOMO shows up during the Christmas season when we run ourselves ragged to keep every tradition and then spend money we don’t have.

FOMO is amplified by social media. Technology now gives us the ability to see all the good times friends had without us. Facebook show us exactly what we’ve missed.

How do you know if you suffer from FOMO? Here are 5 common symptoms:

  1. You find it difficult to commit to social invitations. Are you concerned something better may come along and you will miss out on a better opportunity?
  2. You are restless. Are you looking for the next thing to provide you a sense of excitement? Has it become increasingly difficult to enjoy simple pleasures God provides each day?
  3. Your mind wanders elsewhere. Do you have difficulty being present emotionally or mentally with the people you live with daily — your spouse, your kids, your neighbors and friends?
  4. You constantly compare. Has social media stopped being about “staying in touch” and turned into “keeping up”? Do you waste hours online and end up feeling jealous and exhausted by the great things others are doing in their lives?
  5. You believe having more or doing more will make you happy. Do you crash when you can’t handle “the more” you think you want? Have you begun experiencing a bi-polar lifestyle of extreme highs and lows that leave you feeling strung out?

How do you overcome FOMO?

  1. Recognition is the first step toward healing. Until you admit that FOMO is ruining your joy you won’t be able to overcome it. Don’t minimizing FOMO’s impact on you.
  2. Identify your triggers. What sets off your Fear of Missing Out? Consider removing those triggers for a time (or permanently). Fast from social media, leave your phone in your car, or take a break from relationships that feed your FOMO.
  3. Reflect more deeply.  Ask yourself, “Will I truly be happier if I have ____ or if I do ____?” When you identify a lie, you can starve it and feed on the truth. Sometimes less is more. Ask yourself why FOMO is such a common human experience. Could it be that you were made for something more than this broken world currently offers? If you are missing out on what God has in store, FOMO may help spur you to search in a new direction.
  4. Look To God: Only God can satisfy. Our Fears Of Missing Out can only be calmed when we look into Jesus’ face and see the one who came “to make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5) Once we do, our patience will return as we become convinced that no matter how inadequate our current situation God will, one day, restore what is lost and broken. Ultimately, we will not miss out on any good thing!
  5. Read the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The author speaks from experience. He suffered from FOMO like none other and offers advice for how to overcome.

Chances are you don’t need more good times. You simply need to choose to enjoy what you already have. God has created a world of simple pleasures which are often free and usually the best. Enjoy a brisk walk, a warm drink, a healthy meal. Sit quietly with a friend or family member and listen. Treasure the people near you.

Remember, at Christmas, even God thought it best to slow down and content Himself with less when He became human.

Featured Picture Credit

Are You Sick with Envy?

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” Proverbs 14:30

8350807501_72d94a2300_zThis proverb contrasts contentment and envy.  Contentment is a heart at peace and it gives life.  Envy is a heart at war.  It rots a person to the bones like a malignant cancer.

Here are 5 symptoms that indicate you may be sick with envy:

Envy kills joy. I was in a good mood as our family left for a day trip to visit friends. When we arrived, I walked into their kitchen and gasped with admiration. But, as I gazed lustfully upon their stainless steel Bosch dishwasher my good mood died. Before that moment, I had been perfectly content with my raucous, energy hog of a dishwasher. As I drove home, I ruminated on spending money I didn’t have for a new machine I didn’t need. My wife noticed my grumpy attitude and asked, “Is everything okay?”

“I’m fine!” I lied.  But envy had murdered my good mood.

Envy wastes time.  Have you ever lost sleep comparing yourself to others? It’s good to admire another’s strengths and humbly learn from them. But, there’s no benefit to spending time entertaining resentful feelings toward people you otherwise appreciate and enjoy. The vigor you would otherwise use to pursue happiness is siphoned off by distracting thoughts of jealousy.

Envy wrecks community.  Envy is isolating.  It’s sad when we allows ourselves to grow distant from friends simply because they excel in areas we struggle. Envy is unloving. It keeps us from truly rejoicing with people, even though we desire them to rejoice with us. Envy is illogical — especially if we desire to be on a winning team and partner with people capable of great work. Envy whispers, “Just as long as their work is not too great!” Envy insists that our star shine the brightest. It undermines our ability to joyfully participate in something bigger than ourselves.

Envy alienates us from God. Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.” (Proverbs 23:17) This proverb warns us that bigger sinners will receive the blessings we covet but are denied. My wife, Marty, worked for years as a nurse in labor and delivery. We struggled with infertility, so my anger spiked whenever she recounted the behaviors of her patients and their boyfriends. Their denial of reality and indifference toward the gift of a new life was nauseating. I never envied their messy lives, but I envied their easy pregnancies. Why would God give healthy babies to people who didn’t want them, and withhold a baby from us? Since God seemed so unfair in his dealings, I questioned if he actually cared much about justice — about right and wrong. My conscience slowly hardened. Rather than fear what the Lord might say, I thought the Lord should fear what I might do. I avoided God and I started acting like a person I didn’t enjoy being around.

Envy causes exhaustion and prevents true rest. Shops and restaurants provide a good example. They rarely close because they’re all afraid to lose customers to the competition. Envy for bigger profits drives owners to bribe employees away from their families. Recently even Thanksgiving Day was sacrificed to the god of envy. We may pick on businesses, but the problem of envy runs deeper in the human heart. It can trap people anywhere and at any time. I see it on vacation when a family member yells, “Put that cell phone down” because someone is preoccupied with work emails. I also see it in the glazed eyes of those sitting in the pew on Sunday, worrying about their week ahead rather than beholding the God who holds them in His hand.


Are you sick with envy? What symptoms do you have? Jesus, the great physician, came to heal this deadly disease. His life, His death, and His resurrection guarantee He has the ability to cure all disappointment and restore all loss. Because of Him, we will experience blessings beyond our imagination. Heavenly creatures will stand in awe of us. As we rest in that coming reality, our hearts will stop warring and grow tranquil.  We’ll begin to sense a recovery from this debilitating disease. And one day, when we see Jesus, and He takes our hand in His, we will be fully and permanently cured.

Featured Picture Credits