In October, I uninstalled Instagram (and other social media apps) from my phone. A void was created from the lack of constant inflow of content, updates, and information.
However, this void quickly gave space for activities that I considered more meaningful ways to spend time — take long walks, for example.
Lockdown in India started on 22 March. As you can see, my daily steps took a huge dip since then. It was only in October that I finally found time and space for including those daily walks in my schedule.
Yet, somehow, I couldn’t sustain it.
The fear of missing crept in. Some of my close family, friends, and dance mentors contracted Covid 19. Things became uncomfortable, isolating at home started feeling a lot lonelier and I started seeking distractions. Just like that, I was back on Instagram. And to binge-watching series on Netflix.
You know how it is. You can just get into the bed and scroll away for hours without even realizing how the time passes.
As a result, November was nothing like October.
I lost control over my days. While I did the bare minimum of my training and my work, the motivation was lost. The worst thing of all was the constant feeling of missing out on normal life.
Every post on Instagram felt like peeking into a life that I couldn’t have — vacations, dates, hanging out with friends. Even though all of it made me feel miserable, I couldn’t stop scrolling at it for hours.
Since I didn’t have any social life due to isolation, social media felt like a window to the world and I couldn’t stop myself from peeping through it.
And like most people, I forgot that social media can never be a replacement for real connections. In fact, it only makes us grow more and more distant from finding joy in real life.
Funny thing is that I’ve always been very aware of the importance of staying in the present moment. Yet, this year and the isolation has made it too hard to practice it well. So, for December, I decided to follow some tips to help me practice the ‘Joy of Missing Out’.
1. Watch Where Your Time Goes
If you don’t plan your days, chances are that you’ll jump to the first thing that catches your attention.
Scheduling time for different things in your day and practicing time management can seem hard but it’s a wonderful way to bring your awareness to the present moment. And, to make the best use of the time at hand.
Today, I’d scheduled a writing spree with a friend of mine at 1 PM. So, instead of lying on my bed hours after waking up and scrolling through my feed, I quickly got up, ate, got ready, and sat down to write. And I already feel like I’ve so much better control over my day.
2. Schedule Daily Check-Ins With Yourself
We engage in mind-numbing scrolling, binge-watching, and binge eating when we’re in avoidance mode. However, all the painful thoughts and feelings will stay there unless we find a way to acknowledge them and process them in a healthy way.
Check-in with yourself everyday to acknowledge those feelings and work through them. If you create a practice of daily journaling, you form a wonderful habit of pouring down all your worries and troubles into the paper. You find a healthy release. The same goes for meditation.
And sometimes, you even arrive at smart solutions to your problems through journaling/meditation as it helps you tap into the immense wisdom of your subconscious.
3. Spend Intentional Time On Social Media
Don’t open Instagram and hit refresh every 15 mins. Spend 30 mins to an hour joyfully connecting with the content shared. Truly appreciate what you like, what you connect with, and what inspires you.
A popular screen-time statistic of 2020 suggests that — 70% of the phone-pick-up sessions are less than 2 minutes in length. But they can start off a chain reaction. 50% of screen time sessions start within 3 minutes of the previous one.
Chances are that a complete social media detox will only make you bounce back to the same unhealthy patterns. Social media isn’t all bad. Excessive use is bad. Finding that intentional time block for social media is the way to go.
4. Do Less
Big to-do lists are also a manifestation of FOMO. And they will always overwhelm you and prevent you from doing what you can.
I came across this lovely manifesto from Medium’s Publication Personal Growth Newsletter recently and it stayed with me —
Don’t Do More, Do Less
Make fewer plans.
Make fewer excuses.
Watch less T.V.
Be greedy less often.
Get angry less often.
Trade fewer stocks.
Use fewer words.
Use less debt.
Buy less stuff.
Find fewer faults in others.
Any time we seek to be too much, we discount everything we are already. Doing less is a great way to find joy and appreciation in everything that exists.
5. Find time for activities that slow you down
The book Ikigai talks about the concept of flow. It suggests that a happy life is one in which the maximum number of hours are spent in the state of flow.
What is ‘flow’?
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines the concept of flow as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Have you experienced this? Perhaps when you were completely immersed in reading a book or when you were dancing to a tune that you loved? Or, maybe when you were completely tuned into your breath during a Yoga session.
The time passes so fluidly that you don’t notice the hours tick by. We must all create time and space for such activities that wholly immerse us. For some, it can be writing, for some, it can be some creative DIYs or crafts. While for others, the same joy can be found in cooking.
Finding joy in the present begins with bringing your mind and your awareness to the present. When you can acknowledge and accept the present moment for what it is, you can start using the time at hand intentionally to create joyful and fulfilling experiences for yourself.
No matter where you are or what you do, you always have the choice and the power to find joy. It simply takes practice to get there.