Growing up, I was a sports fanatic. I emphasize the word fanatic. As a life-long California Bay Area resident, I’ve always been a fan of the Golden State Warriors (yes, even before they won their NBA championship a couple years ago). I owned their merchandise and I would attend a few games each year. In fact, I was such a fan, that a few years ago, I even got the same exact tattoo as one of my favorite players. Yes, you heard that right. The same exact tattoo, in the same exact body part. Oh man, how I would slap myself if I could go back in time when that idea initially came into my head.
When I was younger, I was involved with a lot of sports. I played soccer, baseball, basketball, and karate when I was elementary and middle school aged. In high school, I played soccer, ran cross country, and split years between tennis and track and field. Nowadays, I’ll play some recreational basketball once in a while, but I mostly stay in shape through working out at the gym and outdoor physical exercise like hiking.
Naturally, playing all those sports translated into watching professional sports also. I had an older brother who was also into sports, so I took after him and kept up to date with all the news, trade rumors, latest draft picks, etc. In addition to professional basketball, I also followed baseball, football, World Cup soccer, and even professional wrestling (which technically isn’t a sport, more like sports entertainment).
Even as young as seven or eight years old, I remember waking up during summer mornings when school was out, and instead of putting on cartoons, I would watch ESPN’s Sportcenter to catch up on any news I may have missed. At night going to bed, I would turn the AM dial to the sports radio channel and have it play in the background as white noise to help me fall asleep. As you can see, sports were ingrained into my life from an early age.
I was one of those people who had to watch every game. Every single game. I would plan my whole schedule around to be able to watch the Golden State Warriors play. Once DVR’s came around, it helped the planning a little better. But it wasn’t the same as watching the game live as it happened. It was always better to watch it live; at least, in my head, I thought it was better that way. I would stress out if I couldn’t watch the game live. I would get frustrated. As if I didn’t catch the game live, that it would effect who wins or loses in any way. Even as an early teenager, if I was out with my family, I would try to rush them to get home if we were going to miss a game. That wasn’t very nice of me to act like that towards my family members.
Looking back, it was the Fear of Missing out (FoMO) that was taking over my mindset. It was my desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing. If I wasn’t watching the game along with all the other Warriors’ fans in the world, then I was missing out on something greater.
When I got older, sometimes I would rush home, driving from wherever I was, just to be able to watch the game from start to finish. I would weave through traffic like a mad man, not being considerate at all to any of the other drivers on the road.
I came to a realization after having a chat with my good friend Mike. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if we watch the game or not. One team will win. One team will lose. A player may score a lot of points. A player may have a bad game. But there’s no reason to stress, or have the game affect any part of your life in a negative way. There’s no need to rush home, not be considerate of others, ignore people, all just to watch a silly game.
On one hand, I do find watching basketball and other sports entertaining. Playing and watching sports my whole life, I appreciate the skill and talents of the professional players. If I happen to be free at the time of a game, then I will watch it if I have nothing else going on; but I no longer plan my whole day around being able to watch it.
I no longer have that Fear of Missing Out. Once I started meditation and practicing mindfulness, I slowly but surely turned away from the stressful life of planning my days and weeks around sports. Mindfulness helped me appreciate the current moment. However, stressing if I was going to be able to catch the game or not was not an act of appreciation; it was a negative thought process and it did not add value to my life. So over the past year as my frequency of meditation sessions increased, FoMO has faded from my mindset. Because I am able to be mindful of the present, I do not worry about missing out on watching the game.
FoMO can be applied to others parts of my life as well, not just sports. I will dedicate separate blog posts to continue this FoMO series.
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