Let’s not Languish!
A century ago when the planet went through the last global Pandemic, folks that recovered were just joyful if they survived. * Today many of us are moving past survival of the trauma, isolation, and grief of 2020. Now we want a joyous, fulfilling life.
Some of our bodies and our minds say: “Not so fast. You’ve got steps, maybe a little penance for ‘stayin’ alive!”
The Pandemic fog, depression, burnout or blahs, the feeling of not being productive, an aimless, boring, joyless state has fallen upon some survivors. It is more of a valley between depression and burnout. Some might equate it with ruminating—mimicking the senseless, continuous review of a single bite of hay by a country cow.
Adam Grant from the Wharton School of Business, a psychiatrist by trade, says its important to think back to what gave us joy in the Before Times. Actively thinking about when people were moved by what you did—when you had/have an impact. In his interview with Anderson Cooper, the CNN host of Full Circle, admitted he sensed he was “languishing.” He’d binged as many Netflix movies and TV series as he could manage. Because of the Pandemic he wasn’t flying around the world to do newstories and now operates from the office by himself. He enjoys playing with his young son, but usually his child is in bed when Cooper got home. So he was languishing.
Take an active role in your life
Grant noted taking an active role in remembering what had given us joy in the past could begin the process. We could move from ruminating to doing by picking one thing that provides us joy/meaning, then doing it.
Getting to this point is as important as the doing itself. Grant suggested we give ourselves permission to engage in thinking time. Map out two hours a week to read and think about our habits. How could you revamp your day to find time for joy? Refine your week to allow time for energy-creating ideas that stimulate you to rethink old ideas and make them better.
The idea here is to lift yourself onto self-satisfied territory. Then it will be easier to move out from our dreams of the Before Times into the Post-Pandemic Mental Prosperity, which will banish languishing.
Flourishing really is what people are ultimately after,” said Dr. Tyler J. VanderWeele, an epidemiology and biostatistics professor and director of Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program.
The good news is that simple activities can lead to marked improvement in overall well-being.
How to to begin? Simply asking yourself is an effective disagnostic tool, according to Dr. Laurie Santos, a psychology profssor at Yale, who teaches a free 10-week course called “The Science of Well-Being”. They found the little times of joy, simple celebrations and moments offering gratitude to others for their service to you can bring joy as well.
Write it down!
Grant suggests writing down three small accomplishments that gave you joy and purpose. Use that as a launchpad for your next achievement. So you don’t forget the progress you’ve made, keep a journal, keeping a list of the moments of joy, now or at other times in your life. Start with the simple task you start to get yourself off the couch. Just something simple.
“There are lots of American adults that would meet the qualifications of feeling happy but they don’t feel a sense of purpose,” adds Dr. Corey Keyes, a professor of sociaology at Emory University. “Feeling good about life is not enough.”
“Most important for overall well-being,” according to Dr. Keys, “would be a sense of ‘overall well-being’–a sense of satisfaction or happiness.” The Pandemic has prevented us from pursuing many of our interests.”
Flourishing = Finding purpose in life
Each of the experts agreed that finding purpose in everyday life- and beginning to feeling good–comes from seeking out new interests. Suggestions: learning a new skill, reaching out to thank the people you value in your daily life, even the simpliest project–can provide this sense of well-being and accomplishment. Keyes suggests a short 10-minute jog or a walk around the block, volunteering for a nonprofit organization, maybe a 10-minute meditation–simple moments in time.
Maybe your teach your new skill to someone else–to stretch your skill. Then you will begin to create memories. These memories will help build a ladder out of the languishing pit and provide you a joyous landing pad from which you can launch your exploration into a myriad of delightful activities you forgot while you were just ‘stayin’ alive!”
- (I’ve read the global population in 1910 was 1.5 billion, so to lose between 20 and 50 million people would stymie nearly every community.) In comparison, today the global population is 7.9 billion with 500 million lost to the Pandemic around the globe, 675,000 perished in America.
- Adam Grant wrote Think Again, part business, part psychology, that we’ll talk about. He also has the Work-Life podcast and appeared on recently on Anderson Cooper’s Full Circle on CNN to talk about “Languishing.”
- Other professional comments appeared in today, “The other side of languishing is flourishing. Here’s how to get there.” May 12, 2021.
- https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/04/well/mind/flourishing-languishing.html Dani Blum, New York Times, May 6, 2021