Do You Need Leisure Time?

Does your life feel out of balance or not as meaningful as you would like? The choices you make in how you spend your leisure time can increase your level of happiness and enrich your participation in the flow of life. According to Martin Seligman, a leading authority on happiness research, it can also make your life more meaningful.

Having time for leisure is a basic human need. Leisure can be defined as an opportunity for engagement and/or meaning in personally satisfying activities outside of your work or career. These activities:

• Recharge your body.
• Stimulate your mind.
• Enrich your spirit.

Life without leisure depletes you quickly because the rhythm of life is broken. When you are in a “crunch” time, you have to stick with something to meet a deadline. Whether this time period is short (a few days) or long (several months), it takes perseverance and good self-management skills to get through it. During crunch times, you look forward to the time you can balance work and leisure again to re-establish the rhythm which is necessary for good health.

It is assumed that it takes no skill to enjoy free time. However, evidence suggests that free time is more difficult to enjoy than work. Being able to use leisure effectively can be stressful. Some people get anxious when there is unstructured time to fill. If this happens to you, give yourself permission to learn how to enjoy your free time. Break the time into smaller time frames at first until you are more comfortable.

The benefits of leisure are many:

• Allows you to connect with others and reflect on the meaning of your life.
• Helps you to live your dreams and make important contributions which make your life meaningful.
• Helps you appreciate the present moment and beauty around you.
• Increases motivation, concentration, self-confidence, and creativity.
• Increases happiness, gratefulness, and serenity.

All leisure activities are not the same. Some are active and increase flow, i.e. games, sports, hobbies, socializing, and reading an interesting book. Other leisure activities are passive and can create apathy and depression because they do not require much skill and are not challenging, i.e. routinely watching television more than four hours a day and negative thinking.

The choices you make in how to spend your leisure time can have the potential to recharge you. It can mean:
• Active social interaction and/or spectator participation.
• Finding ways for creative expression.
• Intentional intellectual stimulation.
• Appropriate physical activity.
• Learning activities which expand your perspective.

The choice is yours. Enjoy.

Copyright (c) 2007 Maurine Patten