What is this Life, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

                                                                                                                                                                     — W.H. Davies

The happiest people are those who think the most interesting thoughts. Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good company, good conversation, are the happiest people in the world. And they are not only happy in themselves; they are the cause of happiness in others.

                                                                                                                                                                        —William Lyon Phelps


Leisure may be defined as the spare time which a man gets after his bread and butter activities are over. It is the time which a man is free to pass in any way he likes. He has already his day’s work. He has no longer to worry about the work by which he earns his living. Still he has some time left on his hand. That is leisure or spare time. A man gets more of leisure during holidays than on working days.

Importance of Leisure

Leisure in life is extremely important. Both work and relaxation are important ingredients of life. We are living in a machine age which provides numerous labour-saving devices and leaves plenty of time at our disposal. Some of us do not know what to do with all this leisure. In future, as life becomes more mechanized, man will become more confused as to how to spend all the extra time. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. No wonder more and more people get involved in gambling, drinking and other useless activities.

Unlike machines, man cannot work day and night without rest. Our life will become dull if we are always busy in doing the same work. Leisure saves us from the dullness of life. Hobby is the just use of leisure. By the word hobby, we mean a favourite pursuit which one follows during leisure time for the sake of pleasure.

Uses of Leisure

In this respect, the famous lines by W. H. Davies “What is this life if full of care? We have no time to stand and stare” are full of wisdom. These lines mean that life is dull, drab and monotonous if we have no spare moments at our disposal to look around us. We are surrounded with beauty on all the sides. We need leisure to praise this beauty. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. The maxim holds quite true that rest is needed after hard work.

The above saying highlights the fact that play is as important as work. Leisure activates and refreshes us to start our work with all the more vigour and energy. It provides respite from the hectic schedule of daily routine. In today’s fast-paced work environment, in most of the offices five-day week is observed. It aims to give worker sufficient time for rest, recreation and intellectual pursuits.

Leisure time is the golden time to be utilized in one’s spiritual and intellectual development. One can groom one’s personality by properly utilizing the leisure time. We should use this time with definite plan. Idle use of leisure time is abuse of time. We should use our leisure time to satisfy our inner demands. Reading holy books, adventurous books or scriptures enriches our knowledge of culture, tradition and spirituality. It broadens our outlook. Leisure time can also be utilized to pursue some social or creative activity. It makes us cultured and elevated.

Work and leisure are perceived as antithetical, but these are not so in reality. As a matter of fact, their proper utilization can improve the quality of both. A regime of purposive and sustained work enhances the desirability and utility of leisure. On the other hand, leisure activities refresh and invigorate the mind to undertake the occupational tasks in an upbeat mood. Leisure breaks the monotony of fixed routines and unleashes the forces of creativity.

But merely to have leisure is not enough. It is also essential that it should be rightly used, India, as a nation, does not know how to put their spare time for right use and consequently we often hear people complaining that they feel tired during holidays and vacations. Such people misuse their leisure. They would either pass it in sleeping, playing cards, idle gossip, listening to the radio, or at the most in visiting the movies. These are all passive activities – activities in which they do nothing and which do not at all require any use of their brains. Therefore, such people feel bored and instead of wishing for more of leisure, wish for less of it.

How to Spend Leisure Usefully

There was a time when people had very few wants and, therefore, did not have to toil much. Naturally, therefore, they had plenty of leisure and they devoted this leisure to meditation or the study of the scriptures. Today, there are several ways of spending the leisure usefully. They are as follows:

  1. We can spend our leisure in reading books – stories as well as novels, journals, weeklies and dailies. Reading is a source of genuine pleasure.
  2. We can devote our leisure to the study of fine arts, such as music and painting. How pleasure some it is to paint a picture! Similarly, music wards off our cares and anxieties and we find ourselves in a heaven of our own creation. Fine arts undoubtedly elevate the mind.
  3. Walking is another useful method of spending our leisure, particularly for students because they are engaged in mental work. Walking is very profitable. It gives exercise to the body. Various sights and sounds of nature have a refreshing effect on the mind.
  4. Another way of utilizing the leisure is gardening. It is a very useful pastime. It gives exercise to the muscles.
    Weeding and planting need special effort but one is richly rewarded with the sight of beautiful flowers. The nicely
    laid-out flower beds are a feast for the eyes.
  5. What better way of spending our leisure can there be than playing games or taking part in sports? Games, such as football, cricket, hockey, tennis help the body to grow strong, and a strong body means a healthy mind. Physical fitness makes a person smart. Sports teach us discipline. We develop the habit of self-discipline. We learn to accept defeat honourably.
  6. Lastly, there are excursions and picnics. Students spend their holidays in visiting beautiful places, well known picnic spots and thus add to their store of knowledge. The relics of the past fill us with surprise.

Whatever the mode of spending our leisure is, it should be well-spent. It is a sin to spend our leisure on useless pursuits.