Acedia — Feeling Down

I have always loved words that are rich with meaning.  Recently I was having lunch with a long-time friend who used the word “acedia” in describing his current sense of being in a dry spot in his life.

Acedia comes from an old Greek word describing a state of listlessness, of not caring or not being connected to anything in a meaningful way.  The person may experience sleeplessness, headaches, generalized pain, boredom and an overall diminishing of strength and resilience.  It typically implies a kind of weariness of the soul and can quickly lead to an unhealthy inactivity or slothfulness if not addressed. 

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines acedia as “a state of restlessness and inability either to work or to pray”.  Unfortunately, in our culture, we know the wisdom of washing our hands before eating even if we can’t see the germs we are washing away.  But we don’t share the same conviction about spiritual hygiene, often doing little to cleanse and refresh our spirits, and then feel trapped when acedia appears. 

If you find yourself experiencing acedia you need to take action.  Doing nothing will likely lead to a deeper sense of worthlessness, spiritual dryness or even depression.  Break the cycle by reviewing your personal mission statement and deciding how you can make deposits of success in each of these areas this week:  physically, spiritually, socially, personal development, in family, career and finances.

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One Response to “Acedia — Feeling Down”

  1. Gerald Says:

    Timely words, Dan.
    It is so easy to succumb to Acedia, though I have to be honest and say that I’ve not heard that term prior to this post. I’ve had minor bouts of the malaise and have found it difficult to overcome, perhaps wading out of it the next day.
    The mind is a powerful tool but your thoughts can be a powerful enemy. Overcoming such a powerful cycle is difficult but when you break the grip, one has a sense of freshness and rebirth. Developing and having support systems in place helps greatly.
    Everyone needs a break from drudgery, even if you are working at the work you love, you need a rest period to keep you from falling into the doldrums and a possible bout of Acedia.

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