An article that I came across during my morning coffee-accompanied review of the morning digital newspaper caught my eye because of its use of the word I’d specifically chosen in my last post, and turned out to be very insightful:
In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained and worthless. Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity.New York Times
After so many years watching MTV’s The Challenge, my mind immediately conjures up a mental of myself strapped into a harness attached to a bungee cord, depression the starting point and flourishing the goal on the opposite end of the playing field. So many times did I go flying violently back to depression once my will finally caved under the pressures of my psyche. Over the course of the past decade, that default state has shifted from depression to languishing—not ideal, but definitely an improvement. Even though that metaphorical bungee cord has lost most of that tensile strength that would overwhelm me, I’m still presently too close to that starting point than I care to admit.
The article prescribes flow states as one possible solution, but access to those requires mental pathways I haven’t fully rebuilt yet. I can get there, but not with the ease I once used to be able to. Another suggested approach is to setup small goals in order to have easy “wins” to be motivated by, which called attention to how my active mental workload comprises nothing but large-scale efforts: lose a significant amount of weight & hit peak fitness, complete required coursework for a college degree, acquire new marketable skills, and so on. The focus is always on the mountains of work to be done, with no time or mental bandwidth to allot for anything (or anyone) else or the smaller successes along the way. These are all thoughts I’d had dancing in my head in one way or another, but having them presented in formal terms and models does provide a nice framework in which to begin resolving the mental obstacles at hand.