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Leisure expert assures that the lack of free time "is a problem of perception"


The researcher Geoffrey Godbey says that it is necessary to enjoy and put the imagination into play. And that using the cell phone and the TV is occupying gaps 'as an automaton'.

When John Maynard Keynes, right at the beginning of the crisis of the 1930s, predicted that his grandchildren (that is, our parents) would work just three hours a day just because they would choose to extend that amount of time, and that they would have long vacation periods, he probably based his predictions on the Technological advances and economic progress had already vastly reduced the working day, and he assumed the trend would continue.

Things were not as I imagined.

Although faster cars, more efficient transportation, revolutionary household appliances and teleworking appeared, one of the elements that determines people's wealth today is free time.

“We are locked in a contradiction,” explains Geoffrey Godbey, professor emeritus at Penn State University, author of a dozen books and more than a hundred scientific articles dealing with behavior and the future of leisure.

On the one hand,

overcrowding has become a status symbol

, but, at the same time, showing all the edges of our enjoyment is displayed as a flag on social networks.

To sustain our public self-esteem we must have free time available to travel every month, but also have an exploited schedule of commitments”.

Godbey is a


speaker and recognized for having elaborated some interesting concepts such as that in order to enjoy leisure you have to have imagination, that comfort and pleasure are not the same and that getting people to become physically active is never about calories;

but of connections with others, fun with meaning in the links.

The German poet Goethe asserted that "most people spend most of their time working for a living, and what little freedom they have left fills them with so much fear that they seek any means to get rid of it."

Leisure does not have a single definition, continues Godbey.

It can be defined as time relatively free from the constraints of daily life, as an activity that is mostly voluntary and enjoyable, or as a state of mind or spirit in which one feels relatively free of obligations.

Leisure is defined differently in each culture.

– What do you think are the most difficult challenges with leisure today? 

–On the one hand, using the time we have in a way that enriches us.

Most of the time we have gained is used to watch television.

For privileged people, one of the challenges of leisure is choice.

There are too many options to decide what to choose.

Leisure requires one to sacrifice the most options for the most desirable activity.

It is not the absence of discipline, but the change in discipline that is imposed on the individual from external sources.

In other words, without individual discipline, leisure is often harmful.

For the less privileged people, leisure is limited by lack of resources, by political oppression, by physical and mental limitations and by the lack of opportunities to try forms of leisure that can be satisfying.

What has the pandemic changed in this? 

–People chose more escapist forms of leisure.

Drugs, alcohol, social networks and traveled less.

Some "stuck" to us, but others have already gone down in history.

What we thought was going to change everything, just changed us for a while.

Those who were encouraged to reflect, perhaps made some decisions to better choose what to do with their free time and, eventually, make smarter decisions to have more frequent leisure or according to their preference.

However, not everyone can do it, either due to those conditions that we mentioned about the limitations that are imposed on us, but there are also those who, by choice or by omission, do not work on their leisure space.

"Leisure requires one to sacrifice the most options for the most desirable activity," says researcher Geoffrey Godbey.

– Less work is more leisure? 

–It is more leisure if we think of it only in the sense of having time to have it.

Some leisure activities, however, require time off from work to come in larger chunks, rather than many short periods away from work, for example.

When that does not happen, television, cell phones and short-term activities take over and this is not necessarily leisure with meaning, rather it is occupying empty time as an automaton.

The scarcity of leisure time is a problem of perception and organization.

People think they are working longer hours, but in reality, they are confusing the pace of work with the amount of time they spend working.

On average, the number of hours people spend working has decreased.

–Enjoying leisure, does it require effort? 

–Perhaps what is required is to learn to enjoy it.

I think it is a better choice than effort.

A lot of leisure time activity is not necessarily pleasant the first time.

For example, if you choose to try to play the violin, you are trying to defer gratification.

It will take time to learn.

Something that also requires free time.

If the whole process is understood as the application of that desire, it can make that behavior more pleasant.

It's not always about what people want out of their free time, but also about what they can learn to want to do in it.

Comfort and pleasure are not the same.

Many unsatisfactory leisure experiences are extremely comfortable.

One of the most significant variables continues to be the imagination, the scarcest resource among most people.

– Is the way to enjoy leisure cultural? 


Leisure activities that are valued are transmitted in the context of cultures and subcultures.

Bullfights are ritual in one country and animal cruelty in another.

Women play soccer in some places, but they are not free to do so in others. 

–How does technology affect leisure? 

–Modern leisure is the product of changes in technology.

Television revolutionized leisure and now social networks have done the same.

Thus, leisure is defined and redefined by technological progress.

This process is about to accelerate as artificial intelligence duplicates the human ability to write poetry or paint a picture.

It is surprising that the most advanced, technologically prepared societies, and with a higher quality of life index, suffer worrying signs with social pathologies such as depression, suicide, loneliness, as well as high rates of antidepressant and anxiolytic consumption.


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Source: clarin

All life articles on 2023-02-28

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