“By acknowledging that so many of us are languishing, we can start giving voice to quiet despair and lighting a path out of the void.” – Adam Grant
BY Kristy Jansen and Summers McKay
This year, big, audacious, expansive resolutions seem a bit on the absurd side. Nearly the entire first week of this year’s podcast, The Optimist Daily Update was spent with our hosts and producers meekly committing to some form of self-improvement or another. As the first week of the New Year comes to an end and we find ourselves mid (northern hemisphere) winter, it seems like we all already need another break for our foggy brains.
It’s not that we don’t love our work at The Optimist Daily. It’s not that people don’t love what we do. In fact, we’ve had literally our most successful week ever, reaching almost a million people through our website alone. It’s that as much as there seems to be outside momentum, internally we are all kind of meh.
Chief Content Officer, Kristy Jansen reminded us that the most successful article from the New York Times in 2021 was actually about this very state of meh. In an article titled There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing, writer Adam Grant captures the uncertainty, indifference, and in general what would make a difference in a seemingly endless pandemic.
In his powerful article about the psychological impacts of uncertainty and the post dread, pre resolution days, he shares the general experience of languishing:
“In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery, and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained and worthless.
Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of wellbeing. 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 be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.”
Now, you know us at The Optimist Daily. We are all about the solutions opportunity for this ennui. We decided to dig back into our archives to find stories that can help us and maybe you move forward into the year ahead.
Here’s a solid round-up of our top 21 stories to read, share, and digest in order to go from languishing to thriving, and to not beat yourself up too much on the journey.
The best advice we can give you is to start with something small, read two or three of them, share a story with someone who might need it. Begin a conversation on what’s going right in your own world and what we have to look forward to ahead. Resolve only to take the next small step and then the next one when you are ready.
Reconnecting to your inner motivation
Finding ways to increase motivation is key to feeling more in control of your life. From finding joy to overcoming fatigue to generally getting stuff done, self-motivation is essential to our day-to-day life.
- 6 ways to take back your motivation
- Find joy in your workday again with these four strategies
- 5 things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list
- Feeling stuck? Try this reflection series to break free
- 3 ways to address post-pandemic productivity fatigue
Getting in touch with your creative flow:
Creativity is an essential component of human development. Improving this ability can help you develop new ways of thinking or acting, enabling you to come up with new and original ideas in the process.
- Learning through play is valuable for adults, too
- 4 ways to infuse more creativity into your daily life
- Make creativity a daily practice, even if you don’t think you’re “creative”
- 7 Reasons cooking at home gives your mental health a boost
- Why the lost art of daydreaming is good for your mental health
Reprioritizing your thriving self:
Making self-improvement a priority in your day-to-day life is essential to promoting mental wellbeing. Have a read at the articles below to find out how to set personal development goals and find the right strategies to achieve them.
- Five ways our brains benefit from a simple walk
- 3 Strategies to help you reach your post-pandemic goals
- How mindful exercise supports your mental health
- 3 Kinds of non-work-related burnout (and how to address them)
- 6 ways to maintain mental health during unpredictability
Cultivating connection and joy:
Happiness may mean different things to different people but there are many simple strategies we can follow to help us cultivate more joy in our lives.