Many people feel as though there’s something indulgent or selfish in desiring leisure. Even to just talk about it in this culture, unless it’s paired with retirement planning, seems to diminish or to cast doubt upon the seriousness of one’s work ethic, one’s intentions toward accomplishment and productivity.
A recent study, however, showed that when participants described a possible future for themselves, it contained significantly more leisure time than their daily lives contained (Loveday, Lovell and Jones 2018). And, most interestingly, the leisure desired was not just about having fun (though there’s nothing wrong with that!). Fifty-nine percent of the participants reported wanting to use the leisure time for learning, improving and contributing to society.
Activities such as travel, one of the most popular uses of leisure time, contribute to the building of knowledge, the feeling of meaning and purpose, and the sharing of new experiences with other people (as reported by the study’s participants). All these qualities are components of “the good life” as many conceptualize it.
Granted, this particular study was conducted on middle-class, middle-aged Australians with greater means for travel. But, cross-cultural research has found that, in general, leisure enhances well-being through its enabling of affiliation (time with family, friends, etc. providing a sense of connection and belonging) and of a sense of autonomy, among other benefits such as rest and recovery. ***
Did You Know:
The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours” (The United Nations, 1948, article 24).
Did You Also Know:
In some countries, one’s freedom to “roam free” is protected by law. This principle is referred to in Sweden as allemansrätten. All publicly-owned land is free and accessible – no fees are associated with camping, cycling, or walking upon it. Other countries that enshrine the public’s right to roam in nature in law include Scotland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, and Switzerland.