Many of us are either retired, contemplating retirement, slowing down or planning to slow down our work pace. I have stumbled across a book that has much sage advice even for those who cannot or do not want to slow down their busy practice, “The Joy of Not Working, A book for the retired, unemployed and overworked,” by Ernie J. Zelinski. The chapter titles give you an overview of what this book holds in store: You Too Can Live the Life of Riley; What You See Is What You Get; The Morality of Work Is the Morality of Slaves; Working Less Just for the Health of It; Unemployed, The True Test of Who You Really Are; Somebody Is Boring Me, I Think It Is Me; Lighting Your Own Fire Rather than Being Warmed by Someone Else’s; Dynamic Inaction Will Get You Nowhere; Zen There Was the Now; It Is Better to Be Alone than in Bad Company; Financial Independence on Less than Twenty Dollars a Day; The End Has Just Begun.
The premise of the book is that taking it easy is not easy for some people, and that to be successful in leisure it takes a plan and some effort. The author delineates some common problems that people have in their leisure time: “boredom; no real satisfaction from leisure activities; all dressed up and no place to go; all dressed up, somewhere to go, but no one to go with; friction with spouse when time together increases; not enough things to do; so much to do and no time to do it; hard time deciding what to do; bankroll of a peasant but tastes of a millionaire; bankroll of a millionaire but poverty consciousness of a peasant; feeling guilty about taking it easy and having fun; and enjoying only those things that are illegal, immoral or unhealthy.”
For some people the leisurely life not only is easy, but also busier and more satisfying than they expected. As the author states, “Luckily, leisure has two sides to it; the other side is much more positive. Unlimited spare time can, in fact, be an incredible blessing rather than a dull curse. To some, the leisurely life is even more satisfying than they expected. They become more active than ever before. Each day is a new adventure. To these individuals, nothing can be as enjoyable as a leisurely lifestyle. Indeed, they would do Riley proud if he were to show up and see them in action. When you are able to enjoy leisure time to the fullest, your life will be enhanced to immeasurable levels. Success at leisure will contribute to a life that many on this earth can only dream about. Whether you are retired, unemployed, or overworked, your ability to handle leisure time will result in: personal growth; improved health; higher self-esteem; less stress and a more relaxed lifestyle; satisfaction from challenging activities; excitement and adventure; a more balanced lifestyle; improved family life; a sense of self-worth; and a higher quality of life overall.”
The author puts the reader to work to develop his or her own Get-A-Life-Tree. He challenges the reader to think out of the box and to be more observant. He offers many practical suggestions on ways to slow down and really live. He points out that today some people have an inaccurate view of leisure. As he states in the book, “Plato and Aristotle did not associate leisure with idleness and slothfulness as many people do today. They placed leisure on a much higher level than work. Plato described leisure as ‘activity, not passiveness, a mind and body in action, not frozen contemplation.’ In other words, leisure time was an opportunity for human beings to exercise their minds, bodies, and spirituality in new, exciting, and satisfying ways that couldn’t be experienced in the workplace.”
This book has some practical advice for all of us. No matter where we are in life, the ability to truly appreciate and enjoy leisure is a skill worth contemplating if not accomplishing. The willingness to take a vacation while working, the ability to relax on the vacation if in fact we take one, the recognition of the benefits of leisure and the enjoyment of retirement are all laudable goals. Retirement is obviously not for everyone and this book may not have all the answers, but it is a good start for anyone wishing to explore the many benefits of leisure. Happy Leisure To All! ■