My philosophy is: If you can’t have fun, there’s no sense in doing it. – Paul Walker
Why Do We Need More Leisure and Fun?
I asked someone at a recent business networking event what they do for leisure. Their response was an immediate laugh followed by, “Leisure? There is no such thing as leisure with my schedule!”
Our conversation ended less than a minute later as this person’s smartphone appeared to be blowing up with chirps.
…I live in the DC metro area (born and raised) and have witnessed a lot of change in the region over the years. Today, the area has become a transient hot spot due to job growth.
Each month I find it fascinating as I attend different Meetups and often connect with people who are new to the area. They come from all over (India, Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, etc.) and continue to bring in a fresh aura to the atmosphere.
Everyone I interact with seems to work hard at their day-job and enjoys having downtime or leisure outside of work. If these folks didn’t have time for leisure then chances are they wouldn’t be enjoying themselves at local Meetups during the week.
Many of the people I interact with are in the same generational group as I am in — Generation Y or Millennials (but not all). And the vast majority tend to have similar traits.
One of these traits, for instance, is wanting to live in an urban setting or to be within walking distance to a Metro station. Another interesting trait is not wanting excessive debt weighing us down.
One final trait I find very interesting is the view on retirement. Many of us don’t believe the hype that we must work our tails off until age 65 — the age we are told is retirement, and the age referred to as the golden years to enjoy leisure.
Why work the 80-100-hour workweeks, sacrifice leisure now, and hope to enjoy leisure in the future (if we live to enjoy it)?
Why not enjoy more leisure in the now?
How to Make Life More Fun: 3 Great Ideas
Most people know that when one experiences true leisure they are in a more relaxed state of mind and put out more creative thought.
Vacations on a beach with a mixed drink and book to read are what many people associate leisure with. While vacationing can provide this mindset there are other ways to enjoy more leisure without spending a penny.
The trick is being able to not just carve out more leisure, but to also discover where more leisure can be experienced.
Take television watching for instance. Recent studies indicate the average American watches 34 hours of television per week (that’s a lot of television watching)!
34 hours is the equivalent of another full-time job here in the U.S. While to some television watching is considered leisure, I argue against it unless it is a must-see sporting event or show.
I don’t experience leisure when a television is a medium to alleviate life-burdens, much like alcohol. I’m also not experiencing leisure when I spend hours flipping channels only to complain that there is nothing ever on!
Where I do experience more leisure is when I:
- Listen to podcasts on the way to work
- Network (either in person or online)
- Spend quality time with family and friends
I am married and have three growing boys so I will take leisure wherever I can get it.
Does More Leisure Require a Change in Mindset and Behaviour? Absolutely!
Growing up the message was that happiness was tied to a success (business or personal). And to celebrate such happiness I should treat myself with a purchase (party, food, new home or car, bigger TV, etc.).
I practiced this popular philosophy for close to a decade post-college and not once did I enjoy long-term happiness. The end result for me was being buried in financial debt, filing bankruptcy, and losing my home.
Sure, I was irrational in my 20’s and made poor financial choices. I can only point the blame on myself, right?
Yes and no. Yes, because I needed to take responsibility and learn from my poor choices. No, because I was doing what everyone else around me was doing — working hard to achieve success in hopes to enjoy long-term happiness.
Less Work & More Leisure
In mid-2011, following a fun family trip to Walt Disney World, my wife approached me with a radical idea — she wanted us to cancel our cable television and begin de-cluttering our home.
When she made this proposition to me I thought she was losing her mind. Cancel cable? Get rid clutter? I don’t see any clutter!
Long story short, I made the transition to cancel cable and begin de-cluttering within a month. I now had nothing to watch at night when I came home from work and was walking into a liberated space.
It was at this time in which I discovered reading to be fun. I also picked up a new hobby, which was writing. Next thing I knew I had started a blog, I began working out more, eating better, and drinking less alcohol. I should also mention that my weight and blood pressure dropped dramatically.
Not only was I experiencing more leisure and using some of this leisure to pursue a fun hobby, I was also saving a lot of money each month. No longer did I have a $70 monthly cable bill, and soon we swapped in our expensive smartphone bills to go prepaid as well. We went from $200 family smartphone bills to $25 per month prepaid plans with unlimited text.
Eventually, we moved into a smaller place saving us more money. We also went down to just one car, paid off or down credit cards, and weren’t eating out as much.
With fewer bills, I could now afford to work some place part-time doing the work I enjoy most — marketing. I took on a fun part-time position as a marketing specialist for a commercial and government facility cleaning company working just four days per week, which means even more time for leisure!
On average I enjoy 34 hours of leisure per week, the equivalent to how much time the average American spends watching television per week.
Leisure came with one final benefit worth mentioning today, which is an overall boost to my personal happiness. I now have more energy, am more focused and productive, and enjoy more vacations with fewer burdens awaiting back home.
What does leisure mean to you? Is leisure a part of your everyday life? Can more leisure be incorporated to help you pursue a passion?