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Feeling Stuck, Stagnate or Languishing

When we feel our best - we are ‘in the moment’ and almost lose our sense of time. This feeling of being totally engaged is called ‘being in the flow’ or flourishing. When we are in this state, we experience more than the absence of negative feelings, we feel good or satisfied about our lives. Flourishing is described as a time when we are functioning with a strong personal sense of meaning, mastery and that we are important to others.

Everyone’s life has ups and downs and therefore no one can be in a constant state of flourishing. Only by being self-reflective can we identify the factors that contribute to our sense of well-being and then we take steps to manage our lives. Six areas/domains contribute to our sense of flourishing: happiness and life satisfaction, mental and physical health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, close social relationships, and secure flourishing (financial and material stability indicating the capacity to sustain flourishing into the future).

Some people report experiencing a sense of emptiness, directionless, or a lack of vitality, though not actually feeling depressed. At these times, people report feeling unmotivated, and every day seems the same as the day before. This sense of unconcern or apathy is called languishing. Languishing makes us feel as though we are empty of positive emotions toward life and not functioning well emotionally or socially. Adam Grant describes languishing as a sense of stagnation or lack of motivation, and people experience reduced focus and decreased work effort. Sadly, we are often unaware that we are languishing, and yet if we don’t pay attention, it frequently leads to more serious psychosocial impairment. If we can identify that we are languishing or feeling stuck, we can start the process to identify our own individual sense of meaning and well-being. Occasionally we can uncover what is the source of feeling that we are in a rut and take care of it, yet each person’s ‘stuckness’ can be different, and can vary over time. If the feeling persists, many people find working with a psychologist extremely helpful.


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