The most-read New York Times story of 2021 captured the ennui that many people felt during the second year of the pandemic. “There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling,” as the article’s headline put it. “It’s called languishing.”
In the article, Adam Grant, a psychologist and author, described languishing as “the neglected middle child of mental health” and “the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being.” He concluded: “By acknowledging that so many of us are languishing, we can start giving voice to quiet despair and lighting a path out of the void.”
This year was not an easy one, and you’ll be reminded of that as you look through our lists of the most popular Times stories of 2021. But we think there is value in looking back — and we expect that you will also find some moments of joy.
We’re adding a couple of twists to this year’s rankings. First, you’ll find the classic most-read list — the 10 Times articles with the largest number of page views. (The list does not include election-result pages, Covid-19 maps and some other standing features.)
Ask an ethicist: What to do if you’re invited to a wedding at a plantation.
Lives Lived: Thomas Lovejoy spent decades trying to preserve the Amazon rainforest. He also helped create the public TV series “Nature” and popularized the term “biological diversity.” Lovejoy died at 80.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The N.F.L. playoff picture
With two weeks left in the N.F.L. season, fans may be wondering whether their teams can make the playoffs. Wonder no more: The Upshot has once again rolled out its N.F.L. Playoff Simulator, which simulates the season thousands of times to figure out each team’s odds of making the postseason.
A few takeaways:
Six teams are officially in the postseason. But several others can probably start celebrating early: The Bills, Patriots, Titans and Colts all have a greater than 90 percent chance of getting in.
A few other teams are on the cusp — the Dolphins and Raiders in the A.F.C., the Eagles and 49ers in the N.F.C. For each of them, the path is clear: Win both remaining games and their playoff odds shoot up to 100 percent.
The Falcons and the Saints play in the same division, and they have the same record (7-8). But the simulator gives the Saints a 34 percent chance of making the playoffs, and the Falcons a lowly 2 percent.
Try the tool for yourself. Each team has its own page where you can choose who wins the remaining games and see how it changes the odds. — Tom Wright-Piersanti, a Morning editor
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were gyrating and tarrying. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Looks ___ everything” (five letters).
If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.
P.S. Jack Nicas, who has covered tech for The Times, will be the next Brazil bureau chief.
Here’s today’s front page.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” revisits a conversation with a Dogecoin millionaire.