The Power of Leisure: Part 1

It is in his pleasure that a man really lives; it is from his leisure that he constructs the true fabric of self.”  Agnes Repplier

The other week I had an incredible leisure experience - it was captivating and even a bit magical - like great leisure is. Curious to see a glimpse of the May supermoon I decided to go for a stroll that evening. The night sky was clear and calm. The moon hid behind tall houses and buildings until finally she peered out and I was simply awed by her bright  fullness.

At that very moment, I noticed something crumpled on the sidewalk - it was a $20 bill. The energy in the air felt electric. I picked it up and continued walking along until I arrived at a park where people were gathering to bask in the glorious moonlight. It was a sensational moment of human beings connecting with nature.

Sometimes it’s tiring to live in a society that values work, focuses on work, and where the first thing we ask each other is, “What do you do for work?” It’s so much work and so little play. Perhaps leisure gets a bad rap and we don’t make time for it because we’re not taught how important it is for our sense of joy, fulfillment and well-being.

Leisure is how you choose to spend your free time, those freely chosen activities that relax and renew you. Any leisure activity you choose will be a reflection of your core personal values and thus, your authentic self. If someone chooses it for you or forces it on you, it’s no longer leisure and may actually feel like work. Most importantly, leisure connects you to your soul and spirit. Your soul speaks to you through the leisure activities you choose.

Here are some tips about leisure:

  1. You want to be conscious. Sleeping is not a leisure activity. It’s sleeping.
  2. There are many dimensions to leisure as there are to your self - passive vs. active, alone vs. social, outdoor vs. indoor, etc. Creating a variety of leisure opportunities will satisfy your multi-dimensional self and stretch you in new ways.
  3. You receive remuneration in pleasure, relaxation, enjoyment and joy, not necessarily money. Unless you find $20 while strolling somewhere!

As a life transitions coach, I’ll offer you an important bonus about leisure: having a healthy leisure lifestyle will help you during all kinds of transitions. It will help you through those times in life when things feel rough. Leisure can be your lifeboat that helps you stay afloat and protect you from sinking or worse drowning. You’ll have rituals and strategies to help you renew your energy as well as a larger friendship network to support you through challenging life transitions.  Sometimes, leisure interests even lead to paid work, new careers, new relationships and more.

Want some ideas to get you started and spark your leisure?

  • Create a morning ritual - meditate, practice yoga, go for a walk or enjoy your coffee (or tea) while reading the paper.
  • Start a curiousity log of things you want to learn, study, try or do. Paste, tape, write down anything that piques your curiousity.
  • Plan a television date with your fave program, fave person and fave refreshment.
  • Take a writing class so you can finally write that memoir, screenplay or science-fiction romance you’ve been simmering for years.
  • Volunteer your leisure time for an issue that’s important to you.
  • Experience a solo vision quest.
  • Learn Italian, take a cooking class in Tuscany then entertain your friends and family with a home-made meal (or French, Cantonese, Spanish…).
  • Plan a date with a book in the park or at a cafe.
  • Teach a kid how to fly a kite - for real.
  • Take a woodworking class so that you can learn to build a bookcase for your home or for your lover or niece who loves to read.
  • Find out how to set up your own charitable organization for the cause that means the world to you.
  • Register for a dance class you’ve wanted to try - ballet, lyrical jazz, nia, zumba, salsa, belly, etc. (and maybe perform in a recital).
  • Take a photography class and document this time in your life or that special project you’ve been imagining.
  • Find out about new social media and connect with people around the world who have a similar leisure interest.
  • Participate in a wisdom circle, elder circle, wise woman circle, reading circle or stitching circle - circles are wonderful, they get you out of your box.

The list is endless, limited only by your imagination and your relationship to work. Leisure offers us opportunities to experience pleasure, to do things that are meaningful, express our authentic self, connect with ourselves, with the people we love and new people with similar interests. It balances our work with play and lightness, and you’ll find that your life will be filled with many more magical moments.

To read Part 2 of The Power of Leisure, click here.