In her last post, Michille wrote about languishing, that “somewhat joyless and aimless feeling” that that last year or so has engendered. When I saw a story the New York Times today about flourishing, how to turn that languishing feeling around, I couldn’t help but click and read more for some hints on how to improve my own mood and creativity.
Like any other attempt at change, the first step to get from languishing to flourishing is to figure out exactly how you’re currently feeling. Sounds easy, but sometimes that line between tired, sick, depressed, purposeless, or something else all together can be hard to define. Fortunately, the article had a link to a 10-question quiz to help you figure out where you stand. Although finding out you have a higher or lower score than the general public might not be particularly helpful, the the questions asked could provide a good starting point for changes you might want to consider making in order to get from languishing to flourishing.
Just like in a satisfying story, a strong sense of community is key. Whether you spent your pandemic sheltering at home alone, with friends, or with family, you’re probably ready for a change of pace. Reaching out to others, either live and in person (following health guidance) or via phone/video, can be a definite boost. I know the weekly calls I have with distant family members make a definite difference in how I’m feeling, and video-chatting with the other Eight Ladies the other day was a definite mental boost. Even those of us who are confirmed introverts can benefit from personal connections from time to time.
If your community consists of cats or dogs, that’s just fine. There’s nothing like spending some quality time with a furry friend who loves you unconditionally to make a day seem brighter. If that time includes a walk or playing in the park, the exercise will give you an extra mental boost. Yay!
Your hero and heroine have goals and it helps if you do to. Having something you’re striving to accomplish can alleviate that “there’s nothing I want to do” feeling. I remember how boring summer school vacations used to feel when there was nothing in particular to do (or when the library was closed) and how much more fun they were when my friend and I were building a clubhouse or working on art projects. It doesn’t matter if your goal is something big like “I’m going to finish the draft of this book by July” or something smaller like “I’m going to weed the flower beds”, the important part is to have something to aim for.
According to any number of studies, if those goals you have include doing something that helps other people–like volunteering at a food bank or helping out a neighbor–you are likely to get an extra mental and emotional boost. Double win!
Whatever your goals are, it’s important to recognize the progress you make. Whether it’s checking items off a ToDo list, celebrating when you finish a chapter, or stepping back and admiring your newly weeded flower beds, consciously acknowledging your accomplishments can definitely boost your mood. When I’m working on a story, I have a progress jar where I collect little notes about progress I’ve made–whether finishing a chapter or writing a really great line. When I’m feeling discouraged, I can get a mental boost by pulling random notes from the jar and reminding myself about the progress I’ve made. Today my progress was finishing a project at work, writing this blog post, and spending 25 minutes on the elliptical. I may not be flourishing quite like my climbing roses that are attempting to take over the side of the house, but I’m making my own kind of progress and feeling successful.
Flourishing and renewed creativity are within reach; I’m sure of it.
Here’s hoping you’re flourishing (or at least on your way) too.
Feel free to comment with any suggestions to add to the list above or links to share that gave you a boost of happy this week.