Active and Passive Leisure

Nick and Dr. Shintaro Kono discuss the distinction between active and passive leisure. According to Shintaro, the more people engage in active leisure, the more they tend to be happier.

Nick: So I have another question: do you make a distinction between active leisure and passive leisure?

Shintaro: I think we do, not just me personally, but also a lot of leisure researchers do make this distinction. When we say active versus passive, we often mean the physical activeness and passiveness. Physical active like doing sports versus passive being watching TV, sedentary activity. We do that. 

But also in leisure, we can think about different kinds of activities like for example, social reactive, that's one thing. Another thing is cognitive and memory active: quizzes, games, and stuff like that, too. 

We have I think a fair amount of evidence, very basic evidence to suggest that the more you engage in active leisure, both physical and social reactive specifically, you tend to be happier. 

Not necessarily ikigai but other activities as well. I also have some evidence around that, too, but we make this distinction.

Nick: I think it's an important distinction and perhaps unfortunately, we're living towards passive leisure. So in a world of distraction with smartphones, social media, social media addiction, and 24-hour access to unlimited entertainment with things like YouTube or Netflix. Do you think it's becoming harder for people to find ikigai? 

Shintaro: I think so. There's a layer of value judgement here, and it's kind of difficult for me, too. But in many ways, I'm thinking about the pictures that I got in my first ikigai study.

I didn't see a lot of people showing screen or computer or TV: "Here's my ikigai, that's a TV show" for example. I didn't see that. Or even for that matter, for example, twitter or Instagram, Japan is heavily technology based, and Japanese people use those social media.

However, I didn't see anybody saying, for example: "Facebook, this is my ikigai." Not really. so I think that it's attached to this personal values and social values that although we tend to do those social media activities, we are also surrounded by this social discourse that those are not great things.

We know that, we are aware of that. So it's really difficult for us to value truly, wholeheartedly value those experiences. And I don't think there's so much about it, to be honest. I also sometimes binge-watch Netflix, but I usually feel guilty rather than be proud of myself afterwards.

So I think, there's that element, social norms, aspect to it, too. But also just the sheer quality and intensity of the experience, it's just not there sometimes. A lot of people would provide picture about trip, for example.

It's very experiential and it's just a unique experience -- that cannot be just reproduced on, like TV for example, it's very different from simulated experience like YouTube video.

Yes, you can go to eatery through YouTube video, but that's just different from when you actually go there, travel and actually getting there, talking to people, eating something, smelling something, and all that kind of real experience.

So I think that's really necessary. Although, one thing that I want to point out, that maybe social media or watching some stuff can be good for value disengagement. It's an easy way to just take your mind off.

But again, when you really want to have valued experience, yes, I would agree, too many of us spent too much time on those things and people tend not to value those experiences.