What is leisure, and how do we make the most of it?
February 10, 2016
Definitions of Leisure
There is debate about how to define leisure. However, there is a general consensus that there are three primary ways in which to consider leisure: leisure as time, leisure as activity, and leisure as state of mind.
Leisure as Time
By this definition leisure is time free from obligations, work (paid and unpaid), and tasks required for existing (sleeping, eating). Leisure time is residual time. Some people argue it is the constructive use of free time. While many may view free time as all nonworking hours, only a small amount of time spent away from work is actually free from other obligations that are necessary for existence, such as sleeping and eating.
Leisure as Activity
Leisure can also be viewed as activities that people engage in during their free time—activities that are not work oriented or that do not involve life maintenance tasks such as housecleaning or sleeping. Leisure as activity encompasses the activities that we engage in for reasons as varied as relaxation, competition, or growth and may include reading for pleasure, meditating, painting, and participating in sports. This definition gives no heed to how a person feels while doing the activity; it simply states that certain activities qualify as leisure because they take place during time away from work and are not engaged in for existence.
However, as has been argued by many, it is extremely difficult to come up with a list of activities that everyone agrees represents leisure—to some an activity might be a leisure activity and to others it might not necessarily be a leisure activity. Therefore, with this definition the line between work and leisure is not clear in that what is leisure to some may be work to others and vice versa.
Leisure as State of Mind
Unlike the definitions of leisure as time or activity, the definition of leisure as state of mind is much more subjective in that it considers the individual’s perception of an activity. Concepts such as perceived freedom, intrinsic motivation, perceived competence, and positive affect are critical to determining whether an experience is leisure or not leisure.
Perceived freedom refers to an individual’s ability to choose the activity or experience in that the individual is free from other obligations as well as has the freedom to act without control from others. Perceived freedom also involves the absence of external constraints to participation.
The second requirement of leisure as state of mind, intrinsic motivation, means that the person is moved from within to participate. The person is not influenced by external factors (e.g., people or reward) and the experience results in personal feelings of satisfaction, enjoyment, and gratification.
Let’s start with walking. We are blessed in this country with cities that include, and are surrounded by, very special walking tracks for all fitness levels. It could be a walk after work through the bush near home, or a lengthy day hike. Start with a good pair of walking shoes, a bottle of water and some sunblock.
Source: The Park and Recreation Professional’s Handbook by Amy R. Hurd and Denise M. Anderson.