Although we may not feel burn-out or depression, we don’t always feel that we are flourishing. Everyone seems to be talking about languishing. Just what exactly does languish mean? While we may not be clinically depressed, some folks seem to have lost their sparkle. It is difficult to find any joy in the day. Everything seems mundane, gray, tasteless. And we wonder, exactly what is this state called languishing and how can we flourish. Let’s talk about how to move from languishing to flourishing.
If languishing is one end of the spectrum, at the other end is flourishing. Those of us who are flourishing experience engagement and joy. There is purpose. An energetic excitement permeates the day. It is easy to set goals and complete projects. Recovery is quick and a new challenge is welcomed. You can read more about purpose here.
In contrast, languishers are disconnected and disillusioned. Languishing is not depression, but rather is labeled by psychologists as an emotion. It clouds our lives, reduces productivity, and tends to remove our zest for living. Let’s talk about how to move from languishing to flourishing.
What Does Languishing Mean in Positive Psychology?
While you may not feel depressed and lonely, many feel as if they are not flourishing. When we are flourishing, we feel connected and positive. The opposite is true when we are languishing. We may feel that we are not only disconnected, but living a lackluster, unmotivated existence. Life is passing us by. I have lost my connections. I don’t have a purpose, a plan, or a reason. And I have neither the energy nor the impetus to instigate changes in this humdrum existence. I amfunctioning fairly well, but there is neither excitement, enthusiasm, nor joy as a component of my life. Sociologists define languishing as the opposite of flourishing.
What Does Flourish Mean?
To flourish is to feel good, to be positive, to function well, and to take steps toward building not only a functional but also enjoyable lifestyle.
To flourish is to welcome each day, to expect and to watch for opportunities and friendships, and to find purpose in living. To look for the roses, to rejoice in being alive, and to contribute to that same type of life for others.
When we languish, the energy, the plans, the excitement, and interest for each day is missing. Life is a struggle rather than a walk in the park. Returning a phone call seems too difficult. Making plans for the weekend requires too much effort. Extra projects are left unattended. Recreational plans and even exercise may be forsaken.
The meaning of languishing has been universally put into a four-letter word – “Blah”.
The spice of life has gone – there is a dullness in everything – your giddy-up has gotten up and gone. It is just easier to languish at home. Some have labeled languish as the dominant emotion of the year. Let’s talk about how to move from languishing to flourishing.
Why Am I Languishing During the Pandemic?
Is there any wonder that we should languish? Our meetings have been virtual, our relationships distanced. Plans have been cancelled. Schools were closed. However, it is time to acknowledge the blahs, accept what is inevitable, and step out of the gray zone with new and positive attitudes and plans. Empowering our inner resources, and relying on the presence and strength of God in our lives, we must actively seek a light-enhanced path leading from languishing to flourishing. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
Avoid dilemmas that frustrate. Choose what activity connections that you are comfortable with, and allow necessary changes to be made without drama as current information is revealed. Be prepared. Make plans. Improve your habits physically, mentally, and spiritually. Emerge as a better person, well-informed and prepared.
Beginning and completing a rather simple project helps move us toward living in a more positive frame of mind. Try painting a cabinet or redesigning your closet. Completing a small project changes our mindset from useless to productive. Our spirits are lifted, and we feel the rush that comes with winning. Transformation has begun.
How Do I Start Flourishing?
Identify the factors that lead to flourishing. Cultivating these areas leads to a lifestyle that can indeed be called flourishing. Let’s talk about how to move from languishing to flourishing.
1. Acknowledge that you desire change.
Accept the current status of your life. So where do I go from here? It takes concerted effort. Gleaning from my personal history, I again determine that I am ready to make the adjustments and plans necessary in order to rise as the phoenix and purposely step into a more positive way of thinking. Step out of the ashes and into a glorious world. Become a part of the re-flourishing of your life and your world.
2. Foster a positive attitude.
Much has been written about the power of positive thinking during the last several decades. Positive thinking begins with clearing your mind of negativity and filling it with positive and productive thoughts. Limit newscasts. Read uplifting books, including scripture. Breathe. Breathe in life and sunshine. Exhale hate, hurt, anger and resentment. Turn up the music – dance with the wind – walk and run in the great outdoors – praise God for all things and acknowledge your dependence upon him.
3. Actively engage in recovery.
Become a part of the renewal. Share positive thoughts. Join a study group. Volunteer at a non-profit. Understand that you are a part of the total recovery and future – be a positive leader. Communicate with others. Contribute to the congeniality of your world.
4. Make it a point to restore relationships.
Contact by phone someone you have not recently seen. Call an elderly family member – make someone’s day. Contact friends who live alone and whose world has become increasingly small. Make a new friend. Open the doors to this new flourishing world of which you want to be a part. Allow people to get to know you.
5. Look for meaning in life.
Don’t be satisfied with only just existing. Perhaps you have been just existing for years. Look for a meaningful path to enhancement of your life. A way out of the blahs. For instance, working with children who have no family support, showing them how to find meaning and purpose or join a group that is feeding the hungry – examples of productive involvement. These self-giving efforts cause us to flourish. We see purpose, meaning, and a future. Joy enters our life and that joy touches others and encourages them. Be a part of the pathway to actively flourishing for you and others.
As we see our lives move from languishing to flourishing, we will see results of our work efforts, our relational reengagement, our outreach as we upreach.
This combination of positivity spurs progress in our work, our family life, and our community involvement. Purpose and energy and determination emerge. Blah will turn to joy and engagement.
Languish will turn to flourish.
Corrie ten Boom, who amazingly helped many Jewish people escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust, once said, “In darkness, God’s light shines most clear.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Jesus Christ said, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 ESV).
God has called you and me as his children to shine his light in the darkness.
True, these are “unprecedented times,” as so many are quick to claim. Yet you and I have an unprecedented opportunity to shine God’s light even brighter and drive out even more darkness.
The world seeks light and life. We long for a path out of darkness. We grasp for Hope. Jesus Christ is the answer. He came as the Light – the answer, the promise from God. And his promise in John 10:10 is: “I came so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”
Light, life, joy, hope, forgiveness – all are available when we believe and trust in Jesus Christ. He will give you the strength to step out of the blahs and into a vibrant world that needs your contributions, your leadership, your testimony of strength dependent upon God. Herein is life, not just existence. You were made to shine. Don’t miss it.