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The Joy of Missing Out: The Art of Self-Restraint in an Age of Excess



The Joy of Missing Out: The Art of Self-Restraint in an Age of Excess

Svend Brinkmann

ISBN: 978-1-509-53159-2 May 2019 Polity 128 Pages


‘Because you’re worth it’, proclaims the classic cosmetics ad. ‘Just do it!’ implores the global sports retailer. Everywhere we turn, we are constantly encouraged to experience as much as possible, for as long as possible, in as many ways as possible. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – has become a central preoccupation in a world fixated on the never-ending pursuit of gratification and self-fulfilment.

But this pursuit can become a treadmill leading nowhere. How can we break out of it? In this refreshing book, bestselling Danish philosopher and psychologist Svend Brinkmann reveals the many virtues of missing out on the constant choices and temptations that dominate our experience-obsessed consumer society. By cultivating self-restraint and celebrating moderation we can develop a more fulfilling way of living that enriches ourselves and our fellow humans and protects the planet we all share – in short, we can discover the joy of missing out.


Introduction: Having it all

1. The sustainable society

2. Pursuing the Good

3. The value of moderation

4. Marshmallows and treadmills

5. The joy of missing out

The Joy of Missing Out makes a powerful, compelling and much-needed argument for self-restraint – on pragmatic grounds, moral grounds, psychological grounds and even aesthetic grounds. Be sure to read this book before your next shopping trip, or job change, or relationship change. This is as good a case as I have seen for when and why less can be more.’
Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice and co-author of Practical Wisdom

“An exhilarating broadside against the intense modern pressure to do more, be more, to become happier and more productive, and to ‘find yourself ’. In championing Stoicism over the relentless and exhausting wild-goose chase of self-help, Svend Brinkmann – though he might not like the fact – has written a book that truly helps.”
Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian

"This volume by the Danish psychology professor Svend Brinkmann is designed to liberate us from over-stimulated modern lives through the old fashioned ideas of restraint and moderation." 
Financial Times

“This smart little pamphlet is, in a way, a manifesto for personal degrowth, or shrinkage.”
Steven Poole, The Guardian

Moya Sarner, The Guardian