Feeling a little meh? Lean into languishing!


I saw a quote the other day that really hit me:
Being too busy can make us unhappy, but so can being too idle.
New data: life satisfaction in the U.S peaks at ~2 – 5 hours of free time per day. Time poverty fuels stress and burnout. Time abundance undermines purpose and progress.
The sweet spot is time affluence: having enough.

For the current lockdown we are really suffering from time abundance, and this is causing people who are normally very active in their work and mind, to be experiencing something different. It is not depression but it feels very similar. A lack of motivation to do anything and just a general feeling of being without purpose.

Listening to a podcast the other day by Adam Grant, he explained this perfectly. What people are experiencing is languishing. It is doing things like aimlessly binging bad TV on Netflix, doomsday scrolling through the news or worse still, social media.

The best word to describe this feeling is Meh…I don’t know if it is a word, but it hits the mark!

I do not propose to have come up with the idea of languishing, the original definition was coined by a sociologist Corey Keyes and ‘it is said to be a sense of emptiness, stagnation and ennui’. 

With the very, very, very extended lockdown that Victoria is currently experiencing, layered on top of an extremely long lockdown in 2020. We have moved past the acute anguish that we felt when COVID hit and we are now in groundhog day, languishing our way through life. This is a horrible place to sit in, as you really truly do not move the needle in any way. As a business owner of a business that has been closed for more days than it has been open over the past 2 years I am happy to admit that by lockdown 6.0 extension, extension, extension, I am languishing.

What I have loved about reading some more articles and listening to Adam Grant, is that once you name the issue, you can start to do something about it. Adam Grants fabulous TED Talk on this subject gives the advice that you need to start finding your flow.

Finding your flow is a very individual thing. Like Adam there have been many hours of playing MarioKart in our family, although our MarioKart of choice is old school (we still have a Gamecube!). This is not the spot I find my flow! Flow is the feeling of being in the zone, a State of total absorption in an activity. It must have participation in the real world though (so no Netflix binging), as Adam explains to find your flow you need 3 things.

  1. Mastery
  2. Mindfulness
  3. Mattering

Let’s start with mastery, you need to feel a sense of progress. Think about work or something that you have done in life in which every day or every week or month, you could see yourself getting one step closer to your goal. An easy example is a goal of being able to run 10km. If you are anything like me, this sounds like a crazy goal, but set that goal and get up every morning for a run. Every week you get further and further in your runs until you are doing 10km….progress. Boy it feels good!

Now we come to mindfulness, this one is much, much harder in this day and age. It is all about focusing your full attention on a single task. For those parents who are working from home with young children, in fact any age children, you will have noticed that on average you are allowed no longer than 3 minutes and 30 seconds to focus on a task, before being interrupted. I had a team meeting the other day in which I talked about this, hilariously throughout the meeting, that is exactly what happened. 

This mindfulness task is hard when you are in a house constantly with other people and a minimum of 3 devices within reach all pinging 24/7.

A great read here about what they call “time confetti”, Brigid Schulte has a great book available!

The final piece of the puzzle is mattering, this is knowing that you make a difference to other people. This one is huge for me because Twisters has an effect on over 2,000 kids each week, and currently those kids are really suffering, we can do very little to help them. For all of the staff at Twisters, mattering is a huge reason why we all love our job so much and why we cannot wait to get back into the gym.

In Victoria, the roadmap was announced this week. After the announcements and then reading all the documents to make sense of what was said, I had a meeting with the Leadership Team to begin planning our road back to back inside the gym. 

I reflect now how the time absolutely flew during this meeting, we were so focused on brainstorming and solving problems. There was an exuberance to my mood, getting my brain to chug along at a fast pace. I could feel through the screen the excitement of our crew that we were going to be seeing the kids again and having an effect on their life.

Mastery… Mindfulness… Mattering… FLOW.

If someone asks you how you are going and you are feeling a bit Meh. Speak up and take a step forward. Who knows you might just start to get your flow?

Want to read more? Here are a couple of suggestoions:

“There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: It’s called languishing” – Adam Grant

Why This Stage of the Pandemic Makes us so Anxious  – Amy Cuddy and JillEllyn

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