In a recent article for The New York Times, Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant puts a name to the feelings of aimlessness and futility that many Americans are experiencing in 2021: “languishing.” It’s a callback to research published by a sociologist named Corey Keyes nearly 20 years ago.
Don’t feel self-conscious if you’ve never heard the term before. It’s tough to define, and generally not a very sexy topic for media to cover. Unlike the mental health’s absolutist states of well-being — “depression” and “flourishing” — when someone is languishing s/he has neither hit rock bottom nor achieved some sort of work-life nirvana. They’re bopping around somewhere in the middle, though trending in the direction of depression.