There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing

There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing

The neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus – and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.

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In a culture that recognizes physical hindrances to health while ignoring obstacles to mental health, take a moment to acknowledge the validity of your current mental state. Are you flourishing; do you have a purpose and are you connected with other people? Are you depressed, lacking energy and feeling despair? Or are you neither of the above, but feeling stagnant, empty and joyless nonetheless? If so, you may be “languishing.” In this timely New York Times article, organizational psychologist Adam Grant describes the postpandemic “blah” and offers a simple prescription that may help cure it.


“Languishing” is a common response to late-stage pandemic.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of the virus and its surrounding uncertainty left many people in a perpetual state of stress. As the pandemic dragged on, they found strategies for dealing with their fears. For many, fight-or-flight gave way to something else entirely. Not depression exactly, but not flourishing either. So what label should you affix to your current, late-stage pandemic mental state? “Languishing” – a term that sociologist Corey Keyes coined to describe the feeling when you’re not quite depressed, but are still experiencing a lack of inspiration, focus and joie de vivre.

Research suggests that people who are languishing now are far more likely to experience depression or anxiety at some point in the next decade. Pandemic-specific research ...

About the Author

Adam Grant is the host of the TED WorkLife podcast, the author of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know and an organizational psychologist at Wharton.

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