4 | Why leisure and entertainment

Do leisure and entertainment actually contribute to our lives?

It’s something that I think about from time to time.

Especially so when I engage in leisure activities and entertainment.
Which means I think about this a lot, recently.

Be it playing sports, watching shows, listening to music, reading, etc.

Sure, sports can be thought as exercising and keeping fit, even improving social relationships when playing with friends; there are various informative and educational shows to watch as well; and reading is one definite way to increase your knowledge.

But what about when the activities are done aside from these cases?
What if I just play a sport because I enjoy it; that I watch a show just to past time; and I’m reading a fiction because the story intrigues me?

Leisure as the opposite of Work

And if work is good, leisure is of course bad.

Leisure is commonly thought of as free time; time spent away from work or any other form of necessary activities such as eating and sleeping.
It is thus perceived as the opposite of work in terms of how we spend our time, and can be linked with unproductivity.

And in the current day and time, productivity rules.
Which means, leisure sucks.


If leisure activities does not help us be productive, if we do not gain any steps closer to certain objectives in our lives, then it means that in an optimized life, leisure should be completely excluded.
Your time should be only spent eating, sleeping, learning, working, and such.
All of which either help you continue functioning, or help you achieve something.
There it is, a highly efficient and effective life, without any distractions or obstacles stopping you from going forward.

As “ideal” as it sounds, is that truly possible?
Is it even “ideal”?
Can you imagine a life like that?

That sounds pretty much just like the life of a robot; except that a robot does not have to eat and sleep but it simply requires batteries to keep going.

Precisely because we humans are not built to be like robots, or like whatever a highly optimized life without leisure is supposed to be like, we have leisure in our lives.

And if leisure is the opposite of work, it is exactly what we need to balance our lives.

Simple logic isn’t it?
Two things of the opposite keep each other in balance.

Just because we are socialized to think of work and productivity as good, it does not necessarily mean that leisure is bad.

As much as we cannot live a life without leisure though, it does not make sense to live a life of leisure as well.
After all, the meaning of life is what we often ask and what is the meaning when we simply spend our lives doing whatever we want without concern for any consequences?

Entertainment as escape

We simply love entertainment.
We love the shows, the celebrities, the gossips, the music, etc. so much that we are willing to spend hours and days and for some, lives chasing after them and placing even higher importance to them than ourselves.

It can be that scary.

Why though? What is it that is so “entertaining” about entertainment that we are willing to invest so much time and effort into it?

Now entertainment can function as a leisure activity, so in that aspect it makes sense.
But when entertainment becomes more than a leisure activity, when we fail to balance the role entertainment plays in our lives and allow it to affect other aspects of our lives, we have to start wondering where did we go wrong.

Two possible reasons may be behind this.
Our approach tendencies of craving stories and our avoidance tendencies of wanting to escape from life.

We all love a good movie, be it one that makes us think, one that gives us a good laugh, or one that we all hope to be the protagonist.
It is inherent in us that we value narratives and storytelling, of any forms, play a big part in our lives.

On top of that, various reasons exist for us to hope to experience some form of escape from our lives.
Entertainment often allows us to hit that pause button in life and indulge ourselves in a world different from the one we know, one that we enjoy living in.

A balanced life

Now that I have uncovered a little more on the nature of leisure and entertainment, so what?

Taking entertainment as a form of leisure, and understanding leisure as a necessary part of our lives, the conclusion seems to be that as long as we balance it all, everything will be good.

The question I guess, boils down to what is the right balance and how do we do it.
And that, is a question that only you can answer for yourself.

Further reading

In thinking about this topic, I did a quick search and some reading before writing this article.
Much appreciation to these articles that have helped me think and understand more about leisure and entertainment.

Beyond Leisure by Jonas Ellison

Why is Entertainment so Entertaining? by Peter Stromberg on Psychology Today

Why Do We Place so Much Value on Entertainment and Escapism? by Manal Ghosain

And these last two articles I’ve read from before that had gotten me to think deeper regarding leisure, time-management, and productivity.
Our parents discovered leisure. We killed it. by Stephanie Buck
Why time management is ruining our lives by Oliver Burkeman on theguardian
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