” a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work.” In Praise of Idleness, Bertrand Russell
This couple of weeks have been crazy hectic. I’ve been trying to juggle everything- working full time, blogging, working out, chores, family, friends and of course leisure time. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in trying to find time to leisure and plan it all that I don’t even notice when I actually do leisure. Does this even make sense?
This got me thinking about “Leisure state of mind”.
We live in a world where productivity is a virtue and relaxation considered an inefficient waste of time. Therefore, We relax on the weekend so we have the energy to perform better on our job. Meanwhile, we should relax for the sake of relaxing. Think about it this way – a car that runs out of gas won’t work even after a whole weekend of rest. It needs fuel, and leisure is the fuel of our soul.
Nonetheless, Some of us still feel guilty about our “leisure time”. Considering all the evidence about the benefits of leisure, perhaps we should feel guilty about not having enough leisure. We need a new “leisure ethic” to balance our old “work ethic”.
Unlike the definitions of leisure as time or activity, the definition of leisure as a “state of mind” is much more subjective. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “state of mind” as a person’s mood and the effect that mood has on the person’s thinking and behavior.
Could this definition suggest we can be in a “Leisure state of mind” at any given time? 9:00 on a Monday morning or 10:00 on Friday night. Moreover, at any given place? At the Bahamas or even at work… Whaaat?!
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” | Dale Carnegie
This way of thinking might help us to rethink the concept that ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ are totally separated. Leisure is an end in itself and as the Network for Grateful Living states: “If we ask which of our various activities is an end in itself we find that the answer is ‘celebration’. And that is what leisure is: an inner attitude of celebration”.
I just love this definition. Don’t you?
We typically associate leisure with the time after work. But in fact, as psychologist John Neulinger argued, the only essential criterion for explaining leisure is the “condition of perceived freedom”. He defined that as a state in which one “feels that what he/she is doing is done by choice and because one wants to do it”. Significantly, Neulinger insisted that “any activity” meeting this criterion “may be associated with the experience of leisure”.
If we keep thinking of leisure as ‘that thing we will do when will have enough time and money’ we’ll never get it. Nevertheless, if we think of leisure as something we can get anywhere and anytime maybe we could be in a state of “inner celebration” all the time.
So not only ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ are not separated anymore but also they are not opposites. When we think of leisure we picture vacations – clear waters, white sandy beaches, margarita in one hand and a book in the other or just binge watching on the couch but leisure does not equal idleness. On the contrary, leisure can be anything that recharges our battery whether it’s taking a nap, going on a 10-mile hike or climbing a mountain.
As Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues in his new book “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less”: Rest is something we all know how to do naturally, but it’s also something we can treat as a skill. Pang says that rest is engaging in a restorative activity.
“When you do things like go for a long walk, your subconscious mind keeps working on problems. The experience of having the mind slightly relaxed allows it to explore different combinations of ideas, to test out different solutions. And then once it has arrived at one that looks promising—that is what pops into your head as an Aha! moment.”
For years, I think I got the whole work-life balance wrong. A lot of times happiness, leisure and well-being came after work or school if I even had time for them. My scale was very unbalanced. Until one day I realized that’s not what I want any more.
Today I still work hard but I work even harder on being happy. That may sound strange to you… Why do we need to work on being happy? Unfortunately, we do.
In today’s 24/7, always-on world, We need to make time to ‘take our time’. It’s a choice we need to take every day if not every minute. In fact, now that we know our subconscious mind never stop working and even does it better when we rest maybe resing is not as unproductive as we thought …
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily”| Zig Ziglar
Leisure, happiness and well being are on my mind all the time. They’re the first things I think of when I wake up and the last before I go to bed. In between, I do anything possible to keep this oh-so-desired “state of mind”.
I surround myself with it so I won’t get sidetracked anymore. Whether it’s practicing gratitude, listening to inspirational podcasts on my way to work, reading every book on the topic I can put my hands on, surrounding myself with positive people, good food, free time and sunshine. Or simply asking myself ‘what would make me happy today’ and just trying to do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
What would make you happy today? Even the smallest thing. Can you do it today?