A lot of people think relaxing means doing absolutely nothing at all – nothing but vegging on the couch and watching TV, that is. The scientific reality is that human beings are actually at their happiest when they’re “in the groove” or have “found a flow.” It is more than possible to enjoy leisurely downtime while participating in a meaningful activity; hence the term active leisure.
In his book, Finding Flow, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi focuses on how active leisure calms the psyche. When the body and mind are fully committed to focusing on a specific activity or task, there is literally no room for focus on negativity or ongoing conflicts in your life. You are in such a perfect place you wish it would last indefinitely.
For some, this type of all-consuming active leisure may be very physical, like skiing or skateboarding. Others find the focus of small group activities like chess or tennis, to be all-consuming. Many people find individual activities like reading, writing a song, crocheting, or crafting to be blissful.
Sitting on the couch watching TV isn’t as relaxing or calming simply because your mind is allowed to remain scattered, often trying to pick up on several stimulating sources (the TV, commercials, other people, your phone, etc) at the same time.
Do you have an active leisure activity that you find yourself completely absorbed in from time to time? Leave a comment and let us all know what works for you.