“I’m Not Languishing, I’m Dormant”

Adam Grant, popular author, psychologist, and professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, published a recent piece concept of languishing. A term coined by Corey Keyes, languishing is defined as the place between what psychologists have defined as depression and flourishing. But, author Austin Kleon has a bone to pick with this concept.

In his recent blog post, Kleon breaks it down in impactful and straightforward terms. When we define the world around us, we are, in a sense, saying what we expect to see in it. So, when we use a word like languish to define those of us caught somewhere between depression and flourishing, how are we creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Grant argues that “one of the best strategies for managing emotions is to name them.” While this is true, Kleon offers the counterpoint that we have to “remember that naming doesn’t just describe the world, it creates the world, too.” So, what is perhaps a better word, that does not define us only by the situation we are in, but where we can go? Kleon suggests dormant.

Dormancy is a natural state for many plants throughout the Winter. Given the conditions we have been in for the last year, many of us are dormant as well. But the best thing about this suggested word is that dormancy is not a final state; it is a period of time. There is limitless potential for an organism coming out of dormancy.

Perhaps this reframed understanding of the state that we are in as a society can help us see the hope at the end of the tunnel.

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