We hear about FOMO a lot these days. In fact, the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. 

What does it really mean? 

FOMO is a trendy new acronym standing for the expression fear of missing out, used to describe that feeling of anxiety which many people experience when they discover that other people have had fun together, been successful at something, or done just about anything which they might have wanted to be involved in.

Most people at one time or another have been preoccupied by the idea that someone, somewhere, is having a better time, making more money, or leading a more exciting life. For those who skew towards such feelings, smartphones and social media have made it easier than ever to track what others are doing.

It’s certainly not a good thing. And it leads you to check social media again and again and again so you don’t feel out of the loop. So you know you’re doing okay. So you don’t feel left out.

FOMO Comes From Unhappiness

Caught in the FOMO cycle? You’re probably not feeling too great about your life. FOMO often originates in unhappiness.

So you’re not feeling so great and you turn to social media to make you feel better. Only one problem there: it actually makes you feel worse.

In fact, FOMO leads people to check social media right after they wake up, before they go to bed and during meals. 

The Problem Is Attention

Looking at social media for happiness is a bad idea. You won’t find it out there. But when you’re caught in the loop of FOMO you tune out the real world and tune in to the fake one (Social Media). And that’s what the research shows: people with FOMO stop paying attention to life and turn to social media for their happiness cure.

But how do you focus your attention so that you appreciate the real world and don’t turn to Social Media (which is only going to make you feel worse)? Here is what you can pay attention to when life is sad or boring:

Try Gratitude

Try a simple experiment:

Look around. What good things might you be taking for granted? Home? Family? Friends?

Now take a couple of seconds to imagine those were taken away from you. How would you feel? Bad things happen to us randomly, right? So, you are lucky to have what you have.

Research shows this works. Mentally subtracting cherished moments from your life makes you appreciate them more, makes you grateful and makes you happier.

The more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic.

So maybe it’s time to look at the good things you take for granted in life rather than your Facebook wall. Turn notifications off and live for real.