Languishing: A Humorous Take on the Not-So-Funny Feeling
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Well, this is not a topic I take lightly, but I decided to brighten it up for those languishing out there who don’t need another downer.
Have you ever felt like you're just existing in a " blah " state? Not depressed, but definitely not thriving? Welcome to the world of languishing, the middle child of mental health that's not quite here nor there, and it doesn't know if it's coming or going. Languishing is the emotional equivalent of wearing pajama pants to a Zoom meeting – technically functional but not exactly thriving.
The Art of Languishing
Languishing is like being stuck in life's waiting room, flipping through an outdated magazine of "Could be Worse Weekly." It's when your daily highlight is choosing between cereal or toast for breakfast, and even that feels like a decision for the UN Security Council. You aren't happy, but you aren't unhappy either. You could do a lot of things if you feel inspired, but you don't. But you know you could. You just don't. That's languishing – the epitome of 'meh'.
In the grand opera of life, languishing is the background elevator music, just loud enough to disturb your nap. It's like being on a treadmill set to a slow stroll and your monitor not working – you're moving but not really going anywhere and wondering when the cycle will end. You know you're languishing when your most passionate feeling of the day is an annoyance at how your cereal clumps up in the milk.
The Languishing Spectrum
Languishing isn't a one-size-fits-all affair; it's more like a buffet of blah, with various flavors from mild boredom to profound listlessness. On the mild end, you might find yourself staring at a wall, contemplating whether to have coffee or tea. You eventually choose water because making decisions is too exhausting.
As you move along the spectrum, you start forgetting what day it is. Is it Wednesday or Saturday? Who knows? Who cares? You might even start talking to your houseplants, giving them names and detailed backstories. By the time you reach the deep end of languishing, you're wearing socks with sandals not as a fashion statement, but because it's just easier.
Imagine if historical figures had languished. Picture Newton under the apple tree, but instead of discovering gravity, he's just daydreaming about apple pie. Or Van Gogh, staring at a starry night, thinking, "Meh, I'll paint it tomorrow." Imagine Shakespeare, experiencing a mid-career slump, penning titles like "Much Ado About Nothing... Really, It's Nothing." Or Mozart, composing a symphony that's just several minutes of the same note because he couldn't be bothered to write more.
What about the great philosophers? Picture Socrates, not questioning the meaning of life, but rather, the point of getting out of bed. And Julius Caesar, on the day of his assassination, just shrugging and saying, "Et tu, Brute? Whatever."
In today's fast-paced world, languishing has taken on new forms. It's like having 200 channels on TV but nothing to watch, or having a full closet but nothing to wear for that Zoom meeting (not that it matters, since everyone's staring at their own video anyway).
Think about the endless scroll on social media. You're not really interested in your second cousin's vacation photos or yet another "inspirational" quote over a sunset, but you keep scrolling. It's the digital equivalent of looking in the fridge every ten minutes, hoping something exciting has magically appeared.
Our modern hero in this tale of languishing might be the person who joins a Zoom meeting, turns off the camera, and promptly goes to take a nap. Or the one who wears a business shirt with pajama pants, a mullet approach to workwear - business on top, party at the bottom.
Embracing and Overcoming Languishing
So, how do we combat this sense of languishing? Well, sometimes, embracing it is the first step. It's okay to have days where the most productive thing you do is make a sandwich. But, to shake off the languishing lethargy, try something new – like learning to yodel, or baking bread shaped like your favorite celebrity.
Remember, small victories count. So, set small goals and pat yourself on the back when you get them done. Better yet, post them on social media and boast a little. It may inspire some other languishing fellow. Celebrate the days when you wear matching socks or remember to water your plants (who, by now, are probably your best friends). Finding joy in the little things, like finally deciding between coffee or tea, only to go with hot chocolate instead. It's still better than water!
Think baby steps or more like crawling. Pick something intriguing and start crawling in that direction, even if it's just your backyard to meet new plants and make new friends through your new gardening hobby. Take breaks if you must, but keep going. Eventually, you start flowing with your new thing. Once this happens, you're officially out of the doldrums with wind in your sails.
Consider graduating from plants to people. They are out there doing stuff. Join them. How about a book club or a dance lesson? Pickleball is big these days. If you're too old for fraternity parties, they have birdwatching for your age group.
Exercise is not just good for your muscles. It's good for your soul. Just get out of your living room. The gym is a great place to see some interesting characters if you want your exercise with entertainment. Zoomba should get your wiggle on. But hiking will open your horizons if you can get to the top of the hill. Remember, small goals. Don't rush into happiness and fulfillment. It's not how it works. You grow into them.
Speaking of growing, what are you doing about that? How about some books or podcasts you can listen to on your walks in the park? Now, we're talking progress! If you find yourself curious about something, check it out. Discovering something and learning about it will give you a sense of accomplishment. You need it for self-efficacy and rebuilding your self-esteem so you have the confidence to choose cereal or toast!
Find someone to help. It will get you out of your house and out of your indecisive head. Plus, they'll tell you what they need help with, so the only decision you need to make is to just do it. You'll get a thank you, maybe a hug, some acknowledgment, and lots of "feels good," which is the opposite of "blah."
Sometimes, languishing is just a purgatory before some creative expression springs up and lifts you out of it. But you don't have to wait. Try creative writing or painting, making music, or decorating your house. See what happens. If you can't decide, do them all and see what sticks and gives you the warm glow of possible satisfaction with yourself.
If it's really bad and you fear depression is taking over, and your friends don’t want to hear it anymore, you may need professional help. A therapist is standing by somewhere. You just need to find them. If it doesn't work within five or six sessions, try a better therapist.
Sometimes, it’s not you the root cause of your languishing. It may be your environment. Perhaps you've outgrown your town or had the same job for far too long and no longer feel challenged, curious, and growing. Perhaps you've exhausted all your ideas and need a change of scenery, a sabbatical, or an adventure off the beaten path. Go for it! Nothing can shake you off your stupor like landing in a foreign country and trying to figure out what to eat for lunch without getting the shits.
In the end, languishing isn't a permanent state. It's a phase, like that awkward middle school phase we all pretend never happened. By acknowledging it and adding a dash of humor, we can navigate through the fog of 'meh' and find our way back to the land of 'heck yeah!'
In the grand symphony of life, languishing might just be a quirky interlude – a bit offbeat, but part of the melody nonetheless. It's a reminder that not every day is about climbing mountains; some days are about just sitting on the couch and being okay with that, as long as there are not too many of those.
So, if you find yourself languishing, remember you're in good company. History's greats probably had their 'meh' moments too. Embrace the absurdity of wearing pajama pants on a work call or talking to your houseplants. And when you're ready, step out of the fog of languishing with a goofy dance move or a weird new hobby.
I invite you to share your own languishing stories in the comments. Let's laugh at the silliness of it together because sometimes, the best way to deal with life's blah moments is to smile and say, "This too shall pass... but first, let me finish this episode of 'The Office' for the hundredth time."
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