Monday, June 11, 2012

Toward a More Profitable Leisure With Uncle Tom's Leisure Interest Inventory

My kind of flow!
(c) 2012 by Tom King

 As I'm approaching retirement age, I find I have to make better use of my leisure time. Things I once did have become more difficult on the old knees, a greater strain on the pocketbook and less satisfying than they were in my youth.

To help to identify my own leisure interests and those of my clients, patients and students, I have developed my own Leisure Interest Survey and Evaluation form.  I have over the past three decades worked as a physical education teacher, director of a large therapeutic recreation program for children with multiple medical, physical, behavioral and emotional disorders, as director of a multi-generation day care center, a day care center specializing in children with learning disabilities and in starting up East Texas Center for Independent Living. This instrument comes out of that experience.

Uncle Tom's Leisure Interest Inventory is designed to provide a tool for thoughtfully identifying one's leisure interests and helping the user develop tangible goals for improving the quality of your leisure pursuits. It draws from several popula interest surveys in style and content, but reorganizes some information, adds some newer hobbies and leisure pursuits and will be updated regularly as the instrument is tested and evaluated.

Go to this link:  Uncle Tom's Leisure Interest Inventory

The document is a nine page printable PDF fiile.  I find it best to fill it out in pencil and make your own notes in the margins and on the backs of pages as ideas occur to you. 

What's the point?

Too often, over time, we fall into a leisure rut, doing the same things over and over. We are vaguely aware that we're bored with our leisure activities, but we never can think of something to do.  Sometimes we just  need to sit down and think about what we like to do.  Maybe as a result we'll decide to drop some of our old leisure habits and replace them with something we've wanted to do and never made time for. Maybe we'll turn a hobby into a way to make a little income on the side.  Unless you have a clear picture of what your leisure interests actually are, you can't develop a coherent plan for exploiting those interests to improve the quality of your life.

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago has studied the phenomenon he calls "flow".  Flow is a mental state in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. This flow state is most often experienced in favorite leisure time activities at which you have gained a measure of skill. When experiencing flow, you tend to lose all track of time. Your mind and body seem to need the benefits they you receive from the flow state.

The Leisure Interest Inventory helps you identify those leisure activities which are most likely to give you that "flow" experience and the emotional and health benefits that go with it.

So download the inventory, print it and spend an hour creating a map to a healthy leisure lifestyle. You'll be glad you took the time.

Tom King

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