Are you on your eighth Harvard course and can now speak four languages? Congratulations, my friend! You are flourishing. Many of us are not YET. This meme perfectly describes the "other" state of mind called "languishing".
This cracked me up so bad I wanted to write about this unexplained feeling of "blah" or "meh" which many of us have felt or have been feeling. There is a term for it, apparently. Languishing came about when psychologists started writing articles like this one. For a long time, I have been feeling that limbo of blah and I could not seem to understand it until this term came about.
Upon acknowledging this feeling, the first major step I took was to embark on a meditation practice that my friends have been raving about for quite some time now. I was never a "mindful" person. I like to hit life at full speed with no breaks. I just wanted to keep moving, no idle time! Breathing is for the weak. Why do we have to chew our food? That's such a waste of time! Let's hit some numbers and win in life! I was already happy with that life until I was forced to hang out with myself - all day, for months. I broke down at least eight times in 2020. I was never like that. "Why is this happening?" I asked. I have always been the life of the party. (BTW F***k Zoom parties. Who enjoys laughing on mute?) I went through a tough mental health journey and with the support of trusted friends and family, I gradually put together a physical and mental routine that pulled me out of the dark. Now, I can finally understand what "mental health" is. Luckily, none of those dark thoughts came to fruition.
Whether it is meditation or something else, the secret is learning to pop out of our thoughts.
To acknowledge that our thoughts and ourselves are not one thing, as the Calm app puts it, is sanity. To be able to jump out of our brain and zoom out as an observer instead of being immersed in the toxicity of firing neurons, that is the goal. I revisited my childhood hobbies. Growing up in rural Philippines was such an experience. Coffee beans were sun-dried on the National Roads and children are forced to go home before dark. Our neighborhood elders say that at 6PM, the half-human-half-horse "Tikbalang" will start collecting naughty kids like me. Probably, the reason I am still alive to this day is because I was already home at 6PM as a child. Lol. Those things scar you, don't they? I had to keep busy. Drawing, colouring, reading encyclopedias, dreaming about constellations and pretending that I am a spy. I had a pretty imaginative childhood! Last year, I reconnected with that child. This child was a fun one. He did not need parties, there was no social media validation at that time. I was just happy to exist. This was how I got out of my languishing state. I stopped judging myself. The kid did not care about love handles. He was happy to just be.
It is not success that brings happiness, happiness brings success. I started focusing on what makes me happy. I did those things. And slowly, my mental state has improved. I can now stand three minute Yin Yoga poses without thinking of what groceries I will have to pick up. I can now sit down doing nothing, just enjoying my coffee looking at that wonderful view. The work permit for my scheduled aircon cleaning three days from now can wait until mid-day, the condo admin are not in a rush anyway. Lol. I finally learned how to chill. I became happy again. Less dependent on any external validation now, more into myself and how great of a kid I was and still am. I started flourishing again!
I am writing this article two days after receiving a formal notice that my startup company has now been approved as a registered corporation. I cannot wait to celebrate the next chapter of my life as a flourishing adult who creeped out of the pandemic gloom! In your own unique way, you can flourish again too. I hope my story would inspire you to see the light again.
Josh Manoharan is a Filipino-Sri Lankan Physiotherapist based in BGC. He holds clinic at Kerry Sports Manila at Shangri-La Fort. For about 6 years, he was appointed the head coach and studio manager of F45 Training BGC Stopover, an Australian gym that pioneered in Manila. Starting with a vision to thoroughly understand the human body, he started with basic healthcare, got sidetracked to fitness and is now merging both through a telehealth startup company called Kakayanan, Filipino for “Ability”.
Using different channels, Josh aims to share science-based advice to improve the quality of life of Filipinos around the world and expats based in the Philippines.