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Beat FOMO || Acharya Prashant, International Psychology Summit (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner (Q) - Ok, so you talked about influences in the previous answer. So, you know as an 18 year old there is thing called FOMO, Fear of Missing Out and its like kind of being influenced but we have been told that when we are 80 when we are 90 you are gonna remember the good old days and we are gonna remember the memories we make with friends. So, like you know how do we manage both of that FOMO and the memories we are gonna make?

Acharya Prashant (AP) - No, no. Fear of Missing Out, missing out on what?

Q: Just the social aspect?

AP: Ok. So there is a lot going on and you don't want to miss out on that. Fine. That’s what you are saying?

Q: Ya, it's like you know sometimes a lot of my friends invite me out. They just go out, I don’t go out and I do have that FOMO. So, something like that.

AP: So you are afraid that later on you will feel you have missed out on something, that’s what?

Q: Like in the present you feel like you are missing out, you are not making friends and all that.

AP: FOMO, Ok. So others are having a good time and I am missing out on that.

Q: Kind of.

AP: So that’s what we are saying, fine. So that’s one thing and what is the other thing which you want to balance this one against?

Q: And a lot of elders say and even our teachers tell us you don’t remember the actual studying part. You know, have fun, make memories, just live life.

AP: But these two are complementary to each other. There is no contradiction that I see. You want to go out and have fun and your teachers are also encouraging you to go out and have fun.

Q: Like you don’t go out.

AP: Now, that’s interesting. Why don’t you go out?

Q: Like, my parents.

AP: Why are the parents saying that you must not go out?

AP: That’s something you should ask them.

AP: So, I should ask your parents, I should ask your friends and I should also ask your teachers. Why should I not rather ask you something? Where are you in the entire equation? The equation has x, y and z where is I?

Q: Ok, so personally I would love to go out but I am concerned about my safety. I don't know these people very well. But you know, I feel that in order to make friends, be friends with them I should hangout with them more often. It's very superficial (smiles).

AP: No, no, no...... If it's important to you then it can't be superficial, please. So, I am taking it with all seriousness. So who is a friend? Let's define, who is a friend?

Q: A person you can trust.

AP: Trust in what?

Q: Just in general, like you can tell them stuff that's happening with you. And you know there are acquaintances and then there are friends like.

AP: You know how most people are, you know how we are more inclined towards falseness rather than the truth. Towards wise rather that virtue. Right? So, what do you want to trust your friend with?

Q: Vulnerability. Like I believe that a friend is a person you can be vulnerable with.

AP: So you can tell your friend what is it that hurts you?

Q: Ya.

AP: Right. And what happens as a consequence of this disclosure? Is your vulnerability reduced? Does he help you out or you stay as you are?

Q: It does help you out.

AP: So, if I go back to the Mahabharat because the Geeta was named just a few minutes back. So there is a pair we see Krishna and Arjun, and there is also another pair we see let's say Shakuni and Duryodhan. You know all these characters right? Very prominent characters. Which among these two would you call a pair of friends?

Q: Arjun and Krishna.

AP: Arjun and Krishna. But for sure Duryodhan was sharing all his vulnerabilities with Shakuni mama.

Q: But it was one way.

AP: Maybe Shakuni too was sharing all his vulnerabilities with Duryodhan bhanja. Is that friendship?

Q2: I think they were friends.

AP: But then these two definitions of friendship are hugely at odds with each other. We cannot have both of these right. When you have to define a thing the definition of thing cannot include the opposite of that thing. Who is a friend?

Q3: Who is our crime partner?

AP: In general, I don’t know how that sounds but in general, if somebody is indeed your crime partner he not only becomes your friend but your bosom buddy. And you say he stands with me in my deepest evils so he is my truest friend. On the other hand if there is someone who tries to bring some sense to you that fellow doesn't appear very pleasing, or does he?

Once you know what is meant by friendship, it will be very easy to be drawn to the right person. On the other hand if you do not yourself you will also not know who a real friend is. I am sorry if it is getting serious on a light topic, but there is no other way because you are talking of a friend to yourself, right? When you say friend, you don’t merely say friend, you say ‘my friend’. So, to understand who deserves to be a friend you will have to know yourself. If you don't know who you are you will not be able to know which friend to have and keep.

We are people in need to help, support, light, and upliftment. A friend is someone who can bring these to our life. A friend is not necessarily someone you can have a good time with, a friend is someone who teaches you the very definition of having a good time because having a good time is a concept, right.

And that’s why the definition of good time varies from person to person. A friend is someone who takes you to higher pleasures. A good time is supposed to give you pleasure right? Having a good time, having pleasure. But then there are low pleasures and there are high pleasures.

A friend is someone who can help you graduate from lowly pleasures to highly pleasure. Are you getting it? But that will happen only if first of all there is an I in the equation. There has to be an I in the equation. Who am I and what is my requirement and that will tell you who your friend is.

A crime partner appears actually very pleasing but avoid. There was one fellow who was expelled from that assembly. I will continue with that same example, there was one fellow who was expelled from the assembly when Duryodhan and his kin were trying their dirty tricks on Draupadi and you know who that fellow was? The One who was trying to talk some sense to Duryodhan. What was his name?

Q: Vikarna.

AP: Yes, Vikarna, one of the brothers and Vidhur. These were the two sidelines and humiliated. So, given the way we are, if our intention is to remain as we are, forget about fear of missing out you will actively want to miss out on the right thing. The right thing is the thing that you deeply deeply want without knowing what you deeply want. So, it's not FOMO really it's WTMO, I Want to Miss Out on the Real Thing and I want to stick to all the lowly things that’s the nature of the mind and that’s the tragedy with human existence.

We deeply avoid that which we deeply love. We avoid depth all together and we wallow in superficiality. We do not know what is it our heart really beats for and when that thing comes right in front, we just want to run away. That appearance of that thing feels so embarrassing so dreadful , almost like death, so we avoid that. The thumb rule is that if something appears very alluring right in the first instance think not twice but 10 times. The real thing that deserves your companionship, even your devotion will be difficult to go to, even more difficult to stay with.

Friends that appear attractive at the first sight itself will be 99% times be the ones you don’t need to be with, just avoid. You are not missing out on anything. But yes you are missing out greatly on something else, its just that all that happens below the radar we don’t even know what we are missing out on and you are young and I will tell you the real FOMO people reach the age of 80 and die without having ever really lived.

So, they have not missed out on a thing, they have missed out on life itself. And that’s what you should wonder about. What is life? Who am I? And what is it that I really need to have because I wont be alive forever I will be gone? Even if you are not physically gone your energies will be gone. A point will come when your physical apparatus will not support too much activity, even too much thought. So, this is your time, this is your peak, figure out what is it that you must do with it. Again, I am not sure whether this has made any sense but still.

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