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  • Peg Hunt

Languishing--What is this all about?

I recently read an op-ed in the New York Times by Adam Grant about languishing (NYT-Languishing). Languishing is “the absence of feeling good about your life”, says Corey Keyes, who named the phenomena “Languishing is characterized by a lack of meaning, purpose, or belonging in life, which can lead to feelings of emptiness, lack of emotion, and stagnation”, he says. This is different from depression—a disorder characterized by lack of interest in life and/or acute sadness. His research finds that those who can be described as languishing are at a high risk of developing depression or anxiety*. The good news is that you can do something about languishing.

So, what can you do?

1. Name it. Are you languishing? If so, you know what is going on and you know you are not alone!

2. Create flow. The antidote to languishing is flow, which is a state of complete immersion in an activity—time and place melt away because you are so absorbed.

3. Make small and realistic changes. Flow can be achieved by adding small activities to your day that add challenge or excitement to AND that will lead to success. (e.g. Think about growing one tomato plant versus creating a whole vegetable garden)

4. Make time and trust that prioritizing yourself can help move from stagnation towards thriving.

How can coaching help? coaching is focused on greater engagement with the present and looking to the future. Coaching builds greater self-awareness, names emotions or unmet needs that are present, recognizes choice, and supports taking realistic or achievable action. Collaborating with a coach helps people to explore their passions and to act on them—creating the possibility of “flow” and a way out of languishing.

*Coaching is not therapy or medical treatment, nor does it diagnose or treat illnesses. Contact a medical professional for depression or anxiety.

This blog was written by coaches Peg Hunt ( & Anne Garing (

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