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Turning Languishing to Thriving at CIS

Turning Languishing to Thriving

I read a lot of news from various sources to keep up with current events, and now to understand how Covid-19 is affecting the world>India>Karnataka>Bangalore> Yelahanka, although not necessarily in that order. I limit the times I look at covid news so I can sleep at night, and sleep in in the mornings on weekends, which means staying in bed until about 730 a.m. One of my favorite weekends lay in things to do is the New York Times Weekly Quiz where they put forth 12 questions that made the news the past week in the NYTs.

One of the questions asked, (paraphrased) “which of the following is the new term that mental health professionals are using to describe how people feel now? A) Anxiety B) Nervous C) Stressed D) Languishing E) Depression. So I thought to myself, how do I feel right now? And loving words and the English language I mentally unpacked each word to self-assess how I felt, and languishing hit the nail on the head. And even better- I got the answer right! In the same NY Times there was THIS article I had missed that week on the very concept of languishing in the age of Covid.

I do feel the sense of languishing on an almost daily basis, and some days are harder than others to beat this malaise. So I have begun to unpack what it is that actually does kick start my sense of being and purpose, aim and direction. For one, writing this article is on the list. Staying healthy by doing yoga almost every morning is a good way to start the day, and days that I do not start with yoga are decidedly filled with more languish! Walking and now, sprinting are helping too- every day. I started learning the piano last March and turn to that for both intellectual stimulation in learning theory, focus for developing muscle memory and habit in practicing scales and hearing intervals, and sheer joy when I can play something or actually write a new song that expresses how I feel. Can’t beat that feeling.

We all have those things that we do that sparks joy in us (thank you Marie Kando for that phrase). It is more than “clearing out your closet joy” though, as gratifying as that can be. Turning languishing to thriving is more than accomplishing one thing, it is a steady march, sometimes uphill, sometimes coasting, towards a goal that you may never reach, but that brings you closer every day. In education we talk about this as process over product. It is much more important for a learner to understand and be able to execute highly competent research skills in terms of reviewing and vetting sources, examining multiple perspectives and synthesizing a response than the paper or exam that competency is for!

The same is true, I find, for turning languishing into thriving, or the sense of well being physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The process of doing it outweighs any product you make along the way[1] . This is very much in the spirit of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, where one does not view not achieving something as failure but as growth, the development of grit and stamina, and a continued focus on the process to achieve what it is that you set out to do. Fixed mindset people, those focused on a product and maintaining the status quo, most often quit, flail, or dare I say, languish away when met with something that they cannot immediately be successful at. 

For students, the toppers that cram and mug for exams, who game the systems but really don’t walk away with any conceptual understanding or competencies from their time of study often quit and fail when they encounter something hard, or that “won’t be on the test.” Whereas growth mindset learners look at their process, their understanding of what is needed and their ability to achieve what they want, and then work towards that goal- over and over- “failure after failure” and value their internal assessments of growth as much or more than how they are graded.

When times are good, we don’t have to consider these things. But as times have shown, they are not always good! So we need to cultivate and sustain an approach to things that allow us to push through when times are tough; that ground us and motivate us, and keep us with direction and aim internally, and not just, “my aim is to do well on my test.” A test score is external motivation, well being is internal motivation.

So i see a direct connect to developing a growth mindset of grit and determination and pushing through when things are hard with creating a sense of thriving for yourself; and I see languishing as a result of a fixed, “change is bad, and I have no strategies to push past this” mentality as a recipe for languishing.

So some simple things I am doing to push myself past languishing:

  • Go to bed with a sense of purpose and a plan to accomplish some things for yourself (not your job or school)
  • Set exercise as a part of that- I find that if I get up straightaway at 6 am, exercise until 730, shower and at breakfast, by 8 am my mind is popping and by noon I have put in a good 6 hours of work on my well being and have accomplished A LOT towards my work goals for the day…and then it’s lunch time
  • Keep things in line for post lunch for what you want to do and make time for: a walk with your partner, gardening, calling friends, practicing an instrument, singing, whatever it is that gives you joy for a good 30-60 minutes
  • Eat healthy meals- it’s easy to Swiggy everything now, but cooking fresh clean food with no preservatives or other gunk is going to be worth it!
  • Make a time to unplug, stop work, get away from your day to day in the evening
  • And get 8 hours of sleep- you can’t thrive on 6 hours or less night after night

I hope this helps- not trying to accomplish anything here other than to share that we are all in this together but we all have to find our own way to thrive, limit languishing, and continue to grow as individual people and as a community.