cover image Languishing: How to Feel Alive Again in a World That Wears Us Down

Languishing: How to Feel Alive Again in a World That Wears Us Down

Corey Keyes. Crown, $28.99 (304) ISBN 978-0-59-344462-7

Sociologist Keyes (coeditor of Flourishing) sets out in this perceptive guide to lead those who feel “emotionally flattened” onto “a path toward flourishing.” Defining languishing as an “absence of wellbeing... that millions of people were experiencing but found hard to put into words” during the Covid-19 pandemic, Keyes explains that the state of mind involves a lack of excitement, community disconnection, and “the constant feeling of unease that you’re missing something that will make your life feel complete.” It can also precipitate self-harming behaviors, suicidal thoughts, and “absenteeism” from work or school, among other ill effects. Antidotes include “follow[ing] your curiosity to learn something new,” “build[ing] warm and trusting relationships,” and “mov[ing] closer to the Sacred, the Divine, and the Infinite.” Keyes explores these and other remedies in a wide-ranging and eclectic collage of insights, research, and anecdotes. In the section on forming relationships, for instance, he elucidates principles undergirding true friendships (equality, reciprocity, and the willingness to empathize and compromise) and discusses how gangs answer a core emotional need by providing their members with “psychological safety.” Keyes carefully sketches the contours of a pervasive and sometimes-nebulous phenomenon, though his “action plans” can skew vague; such suggestions as “allow your curiosity to triumph over your disappointment” and “fix what can be fixed” may leave readers feeling as adrift as they did before picking up the book. Taken together, though, Keyes’s eye-opening musings will be a balm to those in need of a fresh perspective. (Feb.)