Written by Pastor Loretta Jaunzarins
Summer is upon us. The season of leisure has arrived! The philosophy of leisure has become a much-discussed topic online and in books. Did you know that people actually write about a philosophy of leisure? This sounds like an interesting topic. It’s interesting to me because I had a very narrow definition or understanding of leisure. Here are some of the things I have learned in exploring the topic of leisure.
Leisure is a fundamental human need because without it we ultimately get sick. If we work hard enough and long enough without a break we will get sick. We first get sick emotionally and then we will get sick physically. Some of us need generous amounts of leisure while others of us need only a small amount. Regardless of what you need, the bottom line is that we all need leisure to some personally satisfying degree. If we work hard enough and long enough without a break, we will get sick.
From a spiritual perspective, what leisure does is move us beyond our compulsions to give us the opportunity to rest, not only physically but also to rest within ourselves and with God. What happens during our busy and stress-filled days is that empty spaces appear that need to be filled. We often resort to unhealthy ways of filling those spaces. Leisure, however, is God’s gift to us to fill those empty spaces with life and peace. Leisure helps us relieve the use or overuse of our physical and mental faculties. Leisure helps us transcend the stresses in our lives and offers us a break from a world that often asks too much of us. Leisure can help give us balance and harmony in our lives.
Categories of Leisure
As I mentioned above, we are not all wired the same when it comes to leisure. Dr. Richard P. Johnson of Spiritual Strengths Institute identifies six categories of leisure to help us think about what we are doing and can do to integrate leisure into our lives.
1) Social Interaction:
This type of leisure includes activities where you engage in interpersonal exchange like casual conversations, social get-togethers or parties.
2) Spectator Appreciation:
This includes activities where you are a spectator. Activities can include sporting events, concerts, and even people-watching.
3) Creative Expression:
Creative expression can include anything from artistic endeavours to personal creative tasks like cooking, gardening, crafts and hobbies.
4) Intellectual Stimulation:
For some, leisure can include activities that enhance the mind such as reading, attending lectures, engaging in stimulating conversation, self-help exploration, discussion and learning groups. The possibilities are endless.
5) Physical Exercise:
Any and all physical exercise from running marathons to chair yoga and stretching can be considered leisure. Physical exercise can be organized and purposeful, like booking a game of tennis, or casual like going for a spontaneous walk.
6) Solitary Relaxation:
Many people enjoy doing activities alone like walking, puzzles, reading, crafts or a relaxing bath. The quiet leisure of being alone can be profoundly relaxing, rejuvenating, enriching, and rewarding.
Leisure is a powerful human endeavour with so many positive benefits for our physical and mental health, regardless of our age. Leisure is not something we can or should ignore because in doing so, we risk our well-being. As Dr. Johnson says, “When we depreciate our leisure needs, we lose sight of our true nature, who we really are, and we risk falling prey to the attitude that we live ‘to work’. Leisure reminds us that our sole purpose in life is not simply ‘to do’ but rather, ‘to be’ and ‘to be’ implies talking to the spiritual quality within you, to your soul.”
Easy Intergenerational Leisure
The approach of summer and the season of leisure reminds us of the importance of rest, change, and relaxation. However, leisure shouldn’t only be seasonal but become a daily part of our lives, even of our spiritual life. Recently I’ve taken up reading stories with my 8-year-old grandson Liam. We are reading Harry Potter right now. Even though he’s a great reader, I settle down on the couch and read while he dresses up like Harry Potter and acts out the scenes, correcting me if I mispronounce any names or words. Now that the warm weather is here, we’ll move our leisure time together out to the deck and enjoy each other’s company.
I hope this short discussion will inspire you to incorporate leisure into your day in a variety of ways and realize that any leisure activities that you are currently engaged in are excellent for your health and have a spiritual component to them as well. Leisure is God’s gift for our mental, spiritual and physical health.
You can read more about leisure at:
Dr. Richard P. Johnson has books on spirituality, aging, retirement and healthy living on Amazon.ca, videos on Youtube and his website: www.spiritualstrengths.org.