Human beings, ever since they emerged on earth, have primarily been occupied with trying to meet their basic needs of food and shelter. Scientific studies have revealed that during prehistoric times humans were mostly engaged in hunting animals for food or in protecting themselves from predators and the elements. But even in those difficult times, whatever free time was available seemed to naturally attract human beings to creative activity, a proof of which are the cave paintings from those days. Once human life became more organized and settlements and civilizations were established, leisure and activities carried out in leisure became a more regular feature of human life. Most of the artifacts, which today give us documentary evidence of past cultures and civilizations, are products of leisure.
In modern times, especially due to industrialization, life has taken a different turn. While on the one hand life has become extremely busy, at the same time specialized areas of activity and fixed working hours offer the possibility of considerable free time. Leisure implies free or unoccupied time, when there is freedom from the demands of work or duty. The social structure has developed in such a manner that some sections of the society maintain rich lifestyles with plenty of leisure, whereas the majority of human beings are preoccupied with the battle for survival. Relaxation and leisure are words that seldom have any relevance to their life. These people live under constant stress and demands of modernity. Consequently, they are prone to physical and psychological problems. It is essential to spare some time from a mechanical routine and spend this time to rejuvenate the mind and the body.
“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” most of us are common with this expression. It stresses the need for engagement in activities other than work for a complete development of human personality. Leisure and free time well spent are as essential as food and sleep.
Free times can be utilized in a variety of ways. Activities to suit all budgets, demands of space, and individual and social needs exist from which one can choose according o ones inclination and interest. Reading is one of the most popular free time activities. A wide range of subjects and the existence of well-maintained libraries have made reading a very rewarding and affordable activity. From simple entertainment to highly specialized discourses, reading invariably contributes to ones knowledge and helps widen ones perspective. It is an inexpensive pastime that can be indulged virtually in any place. Other common activities are music, gardening, carpentry, cooking etc. One can also choose from activities which are directly relevant to the society, like social work, caring for abandoned and stray animals, caring for the environment, etc. Activities in the areas enumerated above impart a sense of achievement besides giving meaning and purpose to life. Activities like carpentry, painting and clay modeling help satisfy the creative impulse in many and amateur artist. Socializing is also a healthy activity and promotes good will and mutual understanding among people.
Unfortunately the advent of television has taken a heavy toll of other hobbies and internet comes behind it. Two of the worst affected activities are reading and healthy socializing. On the one hand television has many advantages and the internet is also has more advantages, but on the other hand these are mediums which can very easily be misused by both the viewers and the net users.
The field of sports offers a wide range of activities to choose from. It has the advantage of catering to physical fitness and thus helping to develop a healthy attitude towards life. Games and sports can be chosen according to ones physical capacity. They encourage sportsmanship and an ability to accept defeat and victory gracefully.
Leisure can easily be abused too. “We are all well acquainted with this sentence, “An idle mind is a devils workshop”. Whiling away time in useless activities is the commonest abuse of leisure. People often hand around commercial centers, cinema halls, restaurants and bus stops. Such behavior can become almost addictive and discourages all creative potential. Idleness can force a person into bad company and even anti-social activities. It is thus essential to impart to children right from their early days the value of leisure and its meaningful use.
A balanced and sensible person will never make work alone an end per se. Relaxation of the mind and the body, awareness of ones social responsibilities, and catering to ones creative needs are traits of a healthy and complete personality. Many problems and crises associated with modern life can be successfully combated by proper utilization of ones free time. By coordinating ones talents and faculties one can break the monotony of modern life and prevent life from becoming a burden.