According to Google search team, people searched “how to heal” more than ever in various languages in 2021. This isn’t surprising considering how this year has been.
We’re in pandemic year #2. Vaccines are here but the Coronavirus continues to evolve, too. The hope that we could go back to the pre-pandemic world after we’re all vaccinated turns out to be unrealistic. And we’re all tired of the world in this seemingly never-ending disaster. I am personally feeling emotionally deflated and exhausted now more than last year. It takes more mental energy to motivate myself to get anything done these days.
Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, described this mental state of being as “languishing”. I am not necessarily depressed; but not flourishing either. According to him, languishing is “the neglected middle child of mental health. The void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being”. Human minds are really great at life-threatening events and emergencies. We evolved to manage such situations very well by taking actions in the short-term, as we all did in 2020. Although COVID-19 took away many lives, we learned how to work differently and how to socialize differently. Front-line workers and medical workers took care of so many people. It was shocking and stressful but we were all collectively busy figuring out how to adjust and protect ourselves.
Yet I don’t think we know how to deal with this languishing well, as this pandemic prolongs. Perhaps that’s why people searched “how to heal” on Google more than ever in 2021, as the limiting situation continues. But I don’t think they were looking for a short-term fix to solve any particular problems. What they were looking for was a piece of wisdom that they could use to sustain themselves in the long stretches of suffering.
So, what is the wisdom to heal in this world of continuing pandemic?
I think we can borrow some wisdom from the teaching of Sister Dang Nghiem (“Sister D”). In her recent interview with Dan Harris on 10% Happier podcast, Sister D shares her understanding of “soulmate” in Vietnamese. “tri kỷ” means soulmate in Vietnamese. She knew this word her whole life, but never looked…