Do you want to experience the Joy of Missing Out? Here’s an action plan. A simple one.
It’s rooted in a centuries-old contemplative practice, and one of the reasons I know it’s such an effective tool for well-being is that it’s been renamed, repackaged, and repeated with its essential function left intact countless times.
It’s been called the Examen of Consciousness by the Jesuits, moving toward and away by motivational psychologists, energizing and de-energizing habits by even more motivational psychologists, life-giving and life-taking practices by spiritually-centered leadership and relationship expert and I call it pursuing joy versus despair.
Whatever you call it, whatever philosophical tradition you’re rooting it in, my action plan is an essential resource you can carry with you every day, helping you choose what to do next and discern the right way to go.
Here it is.
Tonight and every night, before you go to sleep, ask yourself what was the most life-giving and life-taking experience of THAT DAY.
Not yesterday, not when you were a kid, not what you’re worried about tomorrow, but TODAY. You can use whatever language you want to describe this: I use life-giving and life-taking, but you can say joy vs. despair, energizing vs. de-energizing.
However you name it, you are actively separating your experiences into things that, if repeated, if pursued, will move you towards joy, and things that will move you away from it. And so the hardest part of what to do next, deciding the right thing to do, has already been done. What do you want? You want JOY.
If you do this tonight, what might it look like? Maybe your most life-giving experience today was holding your partner’s hand, and your most life-taking was agreeing to do a totally voluntary activity that you really didn’t want to.
These realizations are valuable- they can be generalized to the way you live and make decisions. They are how you honestly, actively, and with greater self-awareness say to yourself,
I want more simple intimacy with my partner.
I want to learn how to say no.
What happens then? You move TOWARD comfortably seeking and requesting mutual intimacy, and move AWAY from people-pleasing and the tyranny of “should.” You miss out on something- the relative ease of going along with something and not speaking up- and gain something in its place: comfort with expressing what you need and building the intimacy that you want.
You give up the things that don’t truly serve your success and well-being, the two elements of joy.
You make the sometimes incredibly hard decisions to leave them behind. But they don’t leave an empty space- life moves too fast for that. The things you give up are replaced right away by the things you’re moving toward- the things you’ve chosen.
You are experiencing the joy of missing out.