Languishing by Corey Keyes
Languishing by Corey Keyes

The Emory University sociologist who coined the term languishing—low-grade mental weariness that affects our self-esteem, relationships, and motivation—explores the rise of this phenomenon and presents a comprehensive guide to flourishing in a world that demands too much.

If you’re muddling through the day in a fog, often forgetting why you walked into a room . . . 
If you feel emotionally flattened, lacking the energy to socialize or feel joy in the small things . . . 
If you feel an inner void—like something is missing, but you aren’t sure what . . . 

Then this book is for you.

Languishing—the state of mental weariness that erodes our self-esteem, motivation, and sense of meaning—can be easy to brush off as the new normal, especially since indifference is one of its symptoms. It’s not a synonym for depression and its attendant state of prolonged sadness. Languishers are more likely to feel out of control of their lives, uncertain about what they want from the future, and paralyzed when faced with decisions. Left unchecked, languishing not only impedes our daily functioning but is a gateway to serious mental illness and early mortality.

Emory University sociologist Corey Keyes has spent his career studying the causes and costs of languishing—the neglected middle child of mental health. Now Keyes has written the first definitive book on the subject, examining the subtle complexities of languishing before deftly diagnosing the larger forces behind its rise: the false promises of the self-help industrial complex, a global moment of intense fear and loss, and a failing healthcare system focused on treating rather than preventing illness.

Ultimately, Keyes presents a groundbreaking approach to breaking the cycles keeping us stuck and finding a path to true flourishing. Unlike self-improvement systems offering quick-fix mood boosts, his framework focuses on functioning well: taking simple but powerful steps to hold our emotions loosely, becoming more accepting of ourselves and others, and carving out daily moments for the activities that create cycles of meaning, connection, and personal growth.

is a must-read for anyone tempted to downplay feelings of demotivation and emptiness as they struggle to haul themselves through the day, and for those eager to build a higher tolerance for adversity and the pressures of modern life. We can expand our vocabulary—and, with it, our potential to flourish.


“With his pioneering research, Corey Keyes put languishing on the map. In this powerful book, he brings it to life. Get ready to rethink your understanding of mental health, update your views on happiness, and come closer to realizing your potential.”
—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Potential and Think Again, and host of the podcast Re:Thinking

“In this timely book, author Corey Keyes equips us with the tools needed to break free from the mundane and embrace a life filled with purpose, joy, and fulfillment, and offers us a roadmap to reignite our passion for life, work, and relationships. Languishing is an important book for anyone seeking to thrive in a world that often leaves us feeling adrift. Embrace its wisdom, and let it be the catalyst for your transformation towards a life well-lived.”
—Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

“With compassion and clarity, and raw honesty about his own journey, Corey Keyes explains the languishing to flourishing continuum—and how to break out of the ruts that keep us demoralized and worn down, improve our daily functioning, and find a deeply rooted sense of wellbeing. If you feel like you’re running on empty, this book is for you.”
—Angela Duckworth, New York Times bestselling author of Grit

“Languishing combines decades of Keyes’ own scientific research with powerful personal stories to offer an antidote to the feelings of emptiness and nihilism that plague modern humans. Love. Learn. Work. Pray. Play. Five ingredients that have the potential to transform a life. This book will change the way you think about pain and pleasure, our innate psychological needs and the behaviors that throw us off balance, and the path to holistic wellbeing in an overstimulating, overwhelming world.”
—Anna Lembke, MD, author of Dopamine Nation

"Corey Keyes is the leading researcher studying flourishing and languishing. In this conceptually rich and deeply personal book, Keyes helps us to see that most people are languishing to some degree because we live in a society almost perfectly designed to interfere with some of our deepest needs. His sociological insights are profound. His recommendations will help individuals and societies to flourish."
—Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University, author of The Righteous Mind and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind

Watch Corey's TED Talk

The five vitamins
Follow your curiosity to learn something new
build warm and trusting relationships
move closer to the sacred, the divine, and the infinite
have and live your purpose
play (make time for activities where you enjoy the process, not the outcome)
Corey Keyes
Photo: © Nathan Baerreis

Corey Keyes

Corey Keyes is a sociologist and professor emeritus at Emory University whose research on mental health—including his pioneering work on the science of human flourishing—has had wide-reaching policy implications. Over the course of his career, he’s advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Happiness Forum, as well as governmental agencies in Canada, Northern Ireland, and Australia.

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