The attitudes we have toward life in general affect how we work and how we play. Often people who place a high value on work tie their identities and self-worth to their jobs. They may balance work and leisure in their lives differently from those whose attitudes toward work and play are more casual. But whether or not work is an essential element in our lives, most of us will sooner or later discover the importance of balancing our work and our play.

Just as we handle the quality of our work lives, we are equally responsible for the quality of our leisure lives. We can begin to evaluate that quality by looking at what leisure means to us, by understanding its significance to our lives, and by finding ways to create leisure time in a fast, changing the world.

The Meaning of Leisure

What is leisure? Defining leisure time as non-working time, this is not entirely correct. The many hours spent sleeping, eating and commuting to and from work may not be working hours, but it doesn’t seem much like leisure either.

Many of us define leisure time as the spare time we have left after we have done all the things that we have to do. But what needs completing, everyone interprets differently. If we have the attitude that leisure time activities are important to us, we’ll make time for them. We’ll realize that some of the “have to’s” are not that important.

Any activity can be thought of as a leisure-time activity as long as we enjoy it. Refinishing furniture is work to one person and leisure activity to another. How we interpret the actions we do is a matter of choice. If we take the attitude that having to do something does it a chore, and having a decision makes it leisure, we’ll always see our work as a duty. We could easily choose to interpret what we have to do, like a challenge or an opportunity. Then it won’t necessarily be a chore and may turn out to be something we enjoy. It may even be fun. It’s the attitude with which we approach an activity rather than the action itself that makes it leisure or enjoyable. It’s all about our philosophy.

Reasons for Making Leisure a Priority

Many of us are familiar with what child psychologists and experts say to parents about raising children: “children need their playtime; it’s essential for their development and growth.” Adults need their freedom for that very same reason and many others too.

Work can provide us with the opportunity to learn new skills, develop new friendships and satisfy our interests. So can leisure. Needs and values not attained at work may be realized or compensated for through our interests and hobbies. Satisfying and stimulating leisure time can make even an unchallenging job tolerable.

Many of the same beliefs and values we hold as important reasons for working are probably some of the same benefits we need to have fulfilled when we’re not working. For example, if you value being creative, your skills can be used in your leisure time to:

– design clothes for yourself and others
– decorate your home
– build furniture or patio deck
– write music or poetry

If being the best is important to you, in your leisure you can:

– participate in competitive sports or contests
– perform with a choral, theatrical or musical group

And if you value improving yourself, you can:

– take a part-time day, evening or correspondence courses
– participate in volunteer activities

We also need leisure as a time for renewing ourselves and building up our positives. Having our three R’s – rest, recreation, and relaxation – often restores and reestablishes our positive focus, giving us a refreshed outlook on things and a balanced perspective.

No matter how hard we try to separate our work lives from our home and family lives, they are inseparable. What happens in one area inevitably spills over into the other. Our actions, thoughts, and feelings, our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being are all tied together in the one whole person we are. We must look after and balance our needs and values both at work and away from it.

Just like our bodies, our vehicles, and our homes need constant maintenance, so do our attitudes. Some positives we have never remained the same; they are on-going, dynamic and ever-changing. Taking time out to recharge and rejuvenate ourselves ensures we always have a healthy supply of positives.

As much as we may love our work, if we recognize that having a life outside work is essential, then we will not limit our choices or give up what matters most – whatever that may be. By having involvements and interests outside of work, we maintain our balance even during the most stressful times.

Many adults have forgotten not only how good it feels to play but how important it is to play. Playing or having leisure is not a stage or phase that we grow through; it’s more permanent than that; playing is for keeps because entertainment adds so much to our everyday lives.

© Wordscapes ® (David Turner). All Rights Reserved.