Forestalling Fear Of Missing Out

I have a wonderful life. I know it. You know it. Yet I find myself looking around and wondering why I do not have trips to Europe, a giant savings account or a new car in my life. The dreaded Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) strikes again.

Fear of missing out while I do chores
I have to work SO HARD!

Most of us (all of us?) feel that we are missing out on something. Facebook and easy communications have increased this sensation. My cousins are off on another fabulous family cruise. I sit in Denver working on my to-do list making sure that we have things handled before venturing back to our isolated park in southeastern Utah. My posts on Facebook are about the great stuff in my life but my daily reality includes sweating profusely through my workouts (with nothing to show for the effort, by the way), cooking, cleaning, worrying about money and being sure I am missing everything.

My research has uncovered a great article by Martha Beck (you can read it here). But I will summarize my favorite take-aways.

Combating the Fear Of Missing Out

Fear of missing out sticky notes work
Sometimes I need notes to remember the good stuff.
  1. FOMO comes from thinking other people have better lives than we do. Parts of their lives are great. But they don’t mention the family fights, eating cereal for dinner instead of cooking, the time they lost their phone or how difficult their co-workers are. Our glimpses are only a piece of the truth. One truism says that if you sat in a group of friends and everyone put a list of the problems they face on a piece of paper, you would look through the pile and pick your own set of troubles. Yes, everyone has them. So, pay attention to the good stuff in your own life. I have found I have to make a list of wonderful things we have done so I can remember during those low moments.
fear of missing out the ice cream
Ice Cream is very comforting!

2. We can re-enginer the acronym to work for us. What else could those letters stand for that remind us of what we already have? The author suggests a few: Feel Okay More Often find little things that give us pleasure and focus on them; Find One Magnificent Object appreciate something wonderful in your own life; and my personal favorite Flocks Of Magic Otters.” She adds,What, you don’t think these actually exist? Huh. They’re no more outlandish than believing that everyone you know has a more awesome life than you.” I made up one, too. Focus On My Own. Do you have a car that runs? Someone who cares about you? A home? Comfort food available to eat? Past experiences that make you smile when you remember them? Luckily, each life has its good moments.

What’s Next?

The trick is to pay attention to when we feel sad about what we don’t have and make an effort to notice all we already have in our lives. Yes, it is easier said than done, but has become more automatic with practice. Daily gratitude, being kind to others and noticing other people’s smiles all help me stay focused on the good side of my life. Finally, for me, writing things down always supports my efforts. I feel lucky that you take the time to read my blogs. Thanks!

Fear of missing out the forsythia
There is always something worth enjoying!

 

“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day–or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru

 

 

 

 

Living In A Two-Party Household

two-party household argument
We don’t see eye to eye

What do you do when one of a couple has strong conservative beliefs and the other is as liberal as they come? This two-party household has been our reality for over thirty-seven years. Up until now, we have been able to balance our beliefs because our love is strong and our peace keeping skills are excellent. The mantra of “don’t argue about religion or politics” has led us to live a peaceful life. So far.

Granted we have strong feelings about our beliefs. Every two years, we go to the polls to vote and cancel each other’s votes out, straight down the line. One year, we agreed that since we were nullifying each other’s votes, neither of us would vote. We both cheated. I saw him in line ahead of me to vote! Rather than being angry, we have laughed about that for years. Yes, we both thought that we would get our vote to count that year. Now we accept the inevitable and go together to cast our disparate votes. We consider it our right and responsibility to cancel out the other’s opinion at the polls. This is two-party living at its best.

Up until now, we have found that we can agree to disagree about our political views.

Things have changed in our two-party household

two-party household Trump
He voted for him

With this election, our views are so different that we have both been alarmed at the other’s ideas. I believe that our new president is dismantling the government and removing important gains we have made over the past 50 years. He thinks Trump is finally making the government more efficient and streamlining cumbersome rules that have restricted the economy. My fear is that Mr. Trump is endangering the future of the planet. He thinks I am over-reacting and listening to “the enemy media”. In his opinion, it is about time someone takes charge of the runaway government interference in personal freedoms. I feel my personal choices will be narrowed by the decisions of our leader. The list goes on and on.  The truth is that neither one of us will change our mind, no matter what the other one says.

Two-party household liberal
Me too!

For the first time in our marriage, we cannot find common ground to stand on in this arena. We can’t watch the news, look at the internet or read about any political events without one (or both) of us getting angry. So how can our two-party relationship survive the next four to eight years?

My hope is kindness will save the day

In our relationship, when we speak of our differences, we have an unspoken agreement to stop when the emotions start running hot. Anger appears and we take a time out from the discussion. This can be helpful, for we never want to say things that will hurt that other person. I like him! Why would I want to hurt him? Luckily, he feels the same way.

With kindness, there is room for discussion. When I talk about climate change, he is willing to listen to my view of the situation.  I hope I can learn why he trusts Trump to do the right thing. Sharing my concerns about education leads to him speaking about antiquated institutions. We do agree that health care reform is a tough problem, even though we disagree about the solutions. Granted these conversations can and do get heated. Remembering to be kind to one another ensures that we back off, cool down and reconnect to the fact that we love one another. My tone changes, my words soften and I do my best to listen rather than defend my position. He watches my face, my eyes and does his best to keep it to a discussion rather than an argument. While many times, we have to stop talking about it for a while; we can still maintain the respect and trust we have for each other.

Kindness offers a refuge.  Kindness will allow us to survive this period; possibly to learn and grow into a stronger relationship, even in our two-party household.

two-party household Dalai Lama
Kindness Counts

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

Sitting In A Sea Of Uncertainty

Doesn’t it feel like we are all sitting in a sea of uncertainty? The world is once again in the midst of major changes and that can be frightening. After all, we don’t know how this is going to turn out, do we? We human beings fear change, mostly because change does not come with a guarantee of a happy ending. We have only the hope that things will be better than they were before.

boat on a sea of uncertainty
Sailing on a sea of uncertainty

We have so many things in flux right now. Our new president has promised to make big changes and those decisions are rocking not just the United States but the globe. The climate is changing, whether or not it is accelerated by human beings, science assures us that weather patterns are different and the earth is not the same as it was before. Technology changes how we interact with one another. Some jobs no longer exist, while new ones are created. Changes in health care, freezes in federal hiring and the fact that we are older than we were yesterday bring a feeling of dread. How do we find a place of peace in this ever-shifting landscape?

As these big changes loom, I feel vulnerable. Most of us do.

Brene Brown, a noted author and research sociologist, has studied how we avoid being vulnerable. We all use four main techniques to help us cope with the fear of being vulnerable:

numb out the sea of uncertainty
Party Hardy
  • We numb it with alcohol, sugar, caffeine or adrenaline rushes.
  • We make the things we wish were an absolute truth (even when they are not) and state them as fact. We want others to agree with those ideas as truth, so that we can be right. I particularly see this in politics, religion and sports teams, but this happens in many areas of our lives.
  • We try to be perfect, and convince others that we have perfect lives. We hide our mistakes and imperfections from the world.
  • We pretend that what is happening doesn’t matter to us, that it is not our problem.

Yet each of these coping mechanisms comes with a high price. Numbing the bad feelings numbs the good ones of joy and delight. When we demand that others agree with us, we alienate those whose opinion we could value and become more and more close-minded as we insist on our view. Being perfect exhausts everyone, including the ones doing their best to appear “normal”.  And pretending the change isn’t happening only prolongs the agony. For change is inevitable.

sea of uncertainty in a kayak
Am I alone here?

So we all are living in this sea of uncertainty. We feel vulnerable and scared, even though some of the changes are what we had been hoping for. It feels like a struggle to find safety while being tossed about in my little kayak on the ocean.

 

So now what? I do not have any answers.

Trying to follow my own advice, I meditate, exercise, get enough sleep, reach out to loved ones and remember the good things I have in my life.

Still I have moments (days) of retreating into myself and wishing things would just stay the same.
These are turbulent times. Then that little voice inside me says, “Yes. As usual.”

Buddha laughs while in the sea of uncertainty
It will be all right

“Nothing is forever except change.”Buddha

Reconnecting To Joy – Dancing

Did you watch Seinfeld? (Maybe you still do!) Remember Elaine and her funny dance? Yes, I suspect that is how I look when I am dancing. Yet I get so much joy from moving to the music, I don’t let a thing like “Boy I bet I look silly” stop me from having fun.

Dancing for joy
Dance for Joy

Part of the joy of being an adult and having my own space is that I turn the music up and dance around the living room and the kitchen and wherever I am. I dance while I am cleaning. Cooking to music helps me enjoy it even more and while I am there, I may as well dance! While I can’t actually dance in the car, that doesn’t stop me from rocking out, with my arms waving and head rocking, despite the fact that sometimes people stare. All of this makes my world more fun to be in.

In my early years, I just moved to the music. Then Dave taught me western swing, something he is quite good at.  We tried square dancing. Nope. We took classes in ballroom dance for awhile but we never had much success with that. There are too many rules and structure for my taste. I had the chance to learn line dancing while we lived in campgrounds. Now, that was right up my alley! Being part of group allowed me to have someone to watch plus the music has a great beat. No one ever noticed if I turned the wrong way or made a misstep. Or if they did notice, I was too busy having fun to pay attention.Line dancing is just for fun.

While my current situation doesn’t have line dancing, I still get to play my music and move. I am back to my original style, with no structure and certainly no mistakes. Ah, Joy!

Older woman dancing
I will always dance

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”Satchel Paige

Reconnecting To Joy – Friends

Luckily, my family falls into the category of being friends. Not everyone can say that. In fact, I know many people have deicded to create new families of the heart, made up of friends who they can trust and depend on through thick and thin. I am fortunate enough to have both friends and family to love.

Friends Mark Twain Landing
Having Fun with Friends

Naturally there have been multiple studies to determine the benefits of having friends. Not too surprisingly, there are many benefits when we have strong relationships in our lives. We have less stress, better health, increased happiness and actually live longer. The support we receive makes such a difference that it helps us make better choices. Studies show that people with good social relationships exercise more and drink less. (Of course, sometimes my crew encourages me to drink more. But those times are always accompanied by connection, laughter and love which feels like a very healthy choice.)

My best friends are the ones who make me laugh. They drop everything to help me when I call. They are ones who come to mind when I need to talk and they won’t judge me. True friends are the ones who let me share my pain, but also tell me their troubles. We take turns being strong.

Two Friends
Hanging onto my friends

The hardest part of traveling for the past six years is maintaining the bonds I have made over time, and still creating a space for new people in my life. I do treasure all the connections I have made. I am grateful for social media in that it allows me to stay in contact with so many people. Friendship is precious, even if it has to turn into a long-distance relationship. My widespread community keeps me steady and grateful for their on-going support. Yes, friends bring me joy.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

― William Shakespeare

Reconnecting To Joy – Reading

Reading brings me one of the greatest joys I have in my life. There is nothing like opening a new book and beginning the adventure. I never know where it will lead.

Girl Reading
Leave Me Alone

Let’s be honest. Reading allows me to escape. Don’t get me wrong. My life is great. But it is so nice to dive into a different world, dive so deeply that my connection to real life gets fuzzy. When my kids were young and I found a good book, they would have to shout my name to get my attention. The word “mom” had no meaning to me. I was a dragon rider, a rich tycoon or Southern belle. It is easy to tune out everything else, living out an imaginary life rich with new experiences and interesting people. To this day, my poor husband has to say my name several times to get my attention when I read.

Finding new reading material with a vagabond lifestyle can be tricky. Traveling in an RV offers a bonus. Each campground has a lending library, mainly composed of well-thumbed paperbacks. Because we are all on the road, we bring our own used books. When we head out the next day with a new-to-me book in my hand, I have left one behind for the next traveler and it is an even trade.

E-Reading
E-Reading

Kindles and Nooks work great too, don’t they? They have the very latest novels and the most up-to-date non-fiction titles. One of their best features is that I can adjust the print size. It is large-print-books on demand. I can get service almost anywhere, which is unusual. One problem: They are thin enough that I will tuck them away and can’t find them. I often forget where I have put it. So irritating.

Libraries offer amazing benefits as well. The first thing I do when I arrive in a new town is locate the library. It is usually in the center of town, always has friendly, knowledgeable librarians and has free WiFi. Some towns only have funds to keep them open a few hours a week. Others have over-flowing shelves. They all give me a chance to browse the newest releases. I love libraries almost as much as I love reading. However, when I am passing through, I can’t check out the books. Luckily, my home town has an online lending library. I can check out books to be read on my computer even though I am far from Denver. What a luxury.

Reading Treasure Chest
Reading is a Treasure Chest

But the truth is I still prefer holding a book and turning the pages. I also like seeing how far along I am in the story and being able to flip back when I want to check something.  E-readers make that difficult. So I prefer real books. Still I find joy in reading, no matter where I am or what I am holding. I am grateful that I love to read. It opens so many doors and leads me down many paths.

 

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” –  Joseph Addison

Reconnecting to Joy – Gratitude

Gratitude Journal
Gratitude Journal

The scientific benefits of gratitude have been proven. My life is better when I remember to be grateful. Many advocate using gratitude journals to record why we are thankful for what we have in our lives. So why is it so hard to do? I have started many journals only to let them gather dust on the nightstand. I get tired of writing “I am grateful for my family” even though I AM actually happy they are in my life and do notice this fact often. But writing it down feels like a chore, one for which I am not thankful. So why should I try again?

Studies have shown that writing down a gratitude list even once a week can make dramatic changes in one’s attitude. Those who make the effort to keep a gratitude journal report being happier and more optimistic. They also tend to be able to handle negative life events with greater ease.

Recording the people and events we are grateful for reaps greater benefits than gratitude for material things. This can actually increase our empathy and help us more kind to others on a daily basis. Plus it turns out that relationships need to have a five to one ratio of positive to negative interactions. In other words, for every frown or complaint, we need five smiles and compliments to make the connection work. A gratitude journal can remind us the good parts of being in a relationship (whether it is personal or professional) so we can smile more often.

Gratitude Apps
Download a Gratitude App

I know why I should do this. How can I make sure to create this habit? There are apps to put on my phone (most of them are only a couple of dollars). I can download pages from the internet. Some people have posted beautiful writing prompts to tickle my imagination. Photography can act as a writing prompt or be a gratitude journel of its own. But what appeals to me most is to give myself permission to continue to look for those things I appreciate. I can remind myself to acknowledge those things as they arise and be sure to mention them out loud when I notice them.

Tree of Hearts Gratitude
Love Being Grateful

I will try out the app. After all, why not make my phone work for me for a change. Stayed tuned and I will let you know how this goes. Meanwhile, feel free to share how you remember to count your own blessings. We would all be grateful. 🙂

 

“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” Rumi

Blessings

A blessing of light
Sunset in Utah

December brings in wonderful  holidays. The sentiment remains the same for each of the celebrations:  time with family and friends. These are the true blessings in life. The gatherings are one way of reminding us we are bringing light and warmth into the darkness of winter.

Star burst
Light – A blessing for us all

This time of year invites each of us to be joyous and generous.  It is an opportunity to remember that there is more to life than our daily responsibilities.  Yes, of course this season also adds to the busy-ness of life, bringing a clutter of to-do lists, sometimes unmet expectations and can bring home that not everything in our lives is perfect. Still, it is also time to remember I have friends, family, sustenance and a warm place to sleep each night. I take a deep breathe and I am once again centered and grateful.

candles-1861915__340

 

“Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing.” – anonymous