What Does Leisure Mean?

How would you define leisure?

For Dr. Suzy Ross, if people would look deeply, leisure is a state of mind; a situation where people feel a sense of freedom from all the things that concern them because they are enjoying what they are doing.

Suzy: Leisure can be three different things: leisure can be an activity, something that we do, like the idea of sports, playing catch of any kind, gardening, something that you do. So leisure is an activity.

Like, what is leisure to you? Oh, leisure is, you know, picnicking; leisure is hiking, and so the focus is on the activity. Then for some people, if you say, what is leisure and they'll say, oh, it's time away from work – it's time off. 

It's time when I'm not focusing on anything stressful. So the focus of the mind is on the time. The time is different than work time. So there's a differentiation between leisure and work type of thing. But time is the differentiator. 

But if you're really looking deeply at leisure – leisure, as we learned from Plato and Aristotle is a state of mind. So leisure is a state of mind means that if we get to the essence of leisure, there's a state of mind that is essentially one of freedom. 

Whether it’s freedom from stress, freedom to love, freedom to joy, freedom to happiness, or freedom from something that we want to escape. But either way you look at it, there's an essential element of freedom, and in particular, is a freedom of the mind. 

So when I teach this to my students, I say, even if you are in the middle of work, you can be at leisure. And I asked them: am I at leisure right now or am I at work? 

Well, the longer we go in the conversation, it becomes very clear that even though I'm getting paid to teach you right now, I am at leisure. Why? Because my mind is free. My body-mind-spirit is free, I am not being held by obligation, or even desire to get paid. 

Right now I am free, I enjoy exactly what I'm doing right now. And that is leisure and therefore leisure could be essentially any activity.

Nick: Well, that makes sense to me. I mean, what I'm doing now, I don't see as work. I mean, it helps my business. But it is something I probably would consider and value as very meaningful. 

But it's almost like a form of intimacy, I could have this intellectual and emotional connection to someone. And so in a way, it is also a form of leisure, I really enjoy interviewing people and studying their work.