How to have a great weekend by engaging in "serious leisure"

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“serious leisure”

Wife and I got this down to a science.


Let’s get this weekend started then!

Serious inspiration.


I can see both sides of this argument.

“Serious” leisure may well be more fulfilling than casual leisure or relaxation, but in a world that’s increasingly depriving the 99% of their 8 hours rest and 8 hours of what they will, it seems like madness to demand greater “productivity” not just from work but from leisure as well.

Of course, people who are well rested and not overworked can seek greater fulfilment through more meaningful leisure, but it has to be self-directed. Adding the anxiety of “not doing play properly” is a ridiculous add-on to the strains of modern life.

Also, a lot of the advice will vary wildly from person to person. The article lauds social activity, but many people highly value quiet and solitude to recharge their mental state. Every totalitarian society hates solitude and individual reflection.

The only way to really embrace this Eudaimonia would be to facilitate it on a societal level, as in the leisure society envisioned by the age of automation. It’s only by freeing ourselves from compelled productivity that we will find the opportunity to take part in life-affirming (and possibly even productive) activity. The idea of “work” itself must wither away.

Which means, of course, it’s time to break out the AC quotes again.

The happy life is thought to be one of excellence; now an excellent life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement. If Eudaimonia, or happiness, is activity in accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest excellence; and this will be that of the best thing in us.
Aristotle- “The Nichomachean Ethics” - Datalinks


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I hone my fishing skills on the weekend, which depending on the style of fishing (there are many) could be construed as “lounging with purpose”.

Baitfishing can require some real skill and preparation, but still involve lots of quiet time, and potentially drinking a beer and smoking a cigar.


Mark, I did not see a nap on your list.


This is so true, the increased benefits of active relaxing (socializing, making art, puttering, cooking, reading) versus passive relaxing. The latter is so tempting and completely reasonable sometimes, but if it’s the only way you spend your down time, it gets to be a real drag, in my experience.

@frauenfelder, your ideal weekend sounds delightful. Hope you have one shortly.

With no space to tune out and recharge, every aspect of our lives is suffering: our health is deteriorating, our social networks (the face-to-face kind) are dissolving, and our productivity is down.

(from the Amazon blurb)

  1. My assumption is that this book is describing a very white middle class experience.
  2. The book probably elucidates, but where is the evidence that our health is deteriorating, our social networks dissolving, and productivity is down?
  3. As other people have stated in this thread, what works for one person doesn’t work for another, etc.
  4. This kind of work can contribute to an unpleasant culture of people telling other people how to live their lives - but obviously that’s just my opinion.

The article lauds social activity, but many people highly value quiet and solitude to recharge their mental state.

Also depends a lot on how much your job taxes your social skills. I constantly need to behave like I am everybody’s best friend while working, so I regularly allow myself fairly anti-social weekends as a treat.

Of course, Onstad’s option for social activities contain no end of fuzzy warmth, good for her, but speaking for myself a social call can also contain a fair proportion of snark, back handed comments, competitiveness, listening to my friends bicker with their partners, excessive drinking on the part of some of my friends etc.


The problem with “serious play” is that it starts to feel like work—something you should be doing, instead of what you actually want to do. Sometimes you need an 8-hour gaming marathon to clear your mind so that your serious stuff feels fresh and appealing once again.


This is me and my partner. Although both introverts, I manage a large team and she sees a dozen or so clients during the week. Weekends are for anti-social fun and regenerating.


Your opinion is seconded.

@frauenfelder, reading your list makes me feel bad. I struggle to keep up with expectations I have and I believe others have of me already. But there’s only so much I can pack in a weeks work, and much less I can pack in a weekend.
Also, I already have nearly no time to do the stuff I must do in my non-working hours. Stuff like shopping, tax declarations, cooking, repairing my bike, or paying actual bills on time isn’t optional, and doesn’t go away.

As much as I would like to brush up my French or call my parents and friends living hundreds of miles away, I already fail to include those kind of things in my weekend recently. I manage to read a chapter of delightful silly Jasper Fforde before falling asleep on weekends, but that’s hardly eudaimonia.

All my posts at BBBBS are written in the short time I call my own. I don’t think that qualifies, either - but it is one thing I try to do to keep in contact with some other, more playful part of myself. (And you guys, of course. Even if this is not truly social, it’s a kind of substitute.)

Well, I AM serious about loafing.


I have that problem a lot, it’s part of my depression.

I’d argue that gaming fits well into “serious leisure activities that require the regular refinement of skills”. I can’t see how it would have less value than stamp collecting without getting into the realm of “I disapprove of you having harmless fun in that way!”


I’ve thought about it, and it seems like “serious” and “worthwhile” are really estimators of how valuable a given skill will make you to the group (e.g., getting good at Starcraft, vs. learning Japanese). The tendency is to feel good about yourself for developing skills that will cause others to respect you more, in which case “serious leisure” is really just questing for popularity, and maybe the real issue is that we care too much about what other people think.


Because the five-day week is slavery. It would be relatively trivial to squeeze 36 hours or whatever of work into four days, reducing overheads all over the place, but for some reason it’s unthinkable.

Maybe we’re just conditioned to accept this fucking bullshit without question.

Erm. I am doing 42 hours in four days and have a side job on the weekends. What might be slavery to you looks quite relaxing to me.
I am used to be overworked, I worked 10 years in academia, after all. It’s not like you get any weekend really of there. People expect you to react to requests nearly immediately, and even the university bureaucrats know that researchers ate not taking their holidays because this is part of academic culture.

I thought I try something else.

Now I am stuck between a rock and a hard thing. Please, don’t tell me about slavery.

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Interesting take on it. If that’s what the author means, I retract my earlier endorsement. I came at it with the understanding that it just means actively doing stuff, at least some of the time, instead of relying solely on passive entertainment (e.g., binge-watching netflix, one of my common offenses). I find after a weekend of mainly passive entertainment, I’m often not recharged. But after a weekend that includes puttering in the garden or going for a kayak paddle or cooking a special meal, I feel more well. I don’t think any of these things make me any more valuable to the group, except that maybe they make me better at the stuff I have to turn my attention to during the work week.