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Languishing and Ikigai


There’s a name for the blah feeling many of us have right now in lockdown - it’s called languishing. The state has been described as a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.

"Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.


The term was coined by a sociologist named Corey Keyes, who was struck that many people who weren’t depressed also weren’t thriving. His research suggests that the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t the ones with those symptoms today. They’re the people who are languishing right now. ....." (notes adapted from the New York Times

"Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.


Even if you’re not languishing, you probably know people who are. Understanding it better can help you help them.

Psychologists find that one of the best strategies for managing emotions is to name them.

We still have a lot to learn about what causes languishing and how to cure it, but naming it might be a first step. It could help to defog our vision, giving us a clearer window into what had been a blurry experience. It could remind us that we aren’t alone: languishing is common and shared.

And it could give us a socially acceptable response to “How are you?”

Instead of saying “Great!” or “Fine,” imagine if we answered, “Honestly, I’m languishing.”

When you add languishing to your lexicon, you start to notice it all around you...."

And I reckon this could be another antidote to languishing:

“Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.” —Japanese proverb


Did you know there’s no word in Japanese that means retire in the sense it does in English - they remain active and work at what they enjoy, because they’ve found a real purpose in life - the happiness of always being busy at something. Retire doesn't exit in my vocabulary - does it in yours?


Here might be a way you can deal with languishing, consider your ikigai.....

What's your reason for getting up in the morning - your Ikigai? Once you find it, stay true to your purpose and not your plan. "Make your purpose the core of your life, and you’ll be less likely to be pulled in 1000 different directions – because you’ve already set your own direction, and you’re making all the right moves." Andy Lothian, Insights Group CEO


#motivation #mentalhealth #covidimpact #languishing #ikigai