Flexible Focus #69: The 8 Frames of Life – Leisure

by William Reed on September 16, 2011

Children laugh between 300~400 times a day, whereas in adults the number drops to less than 20. What happened to them?!

According to Dr. Madan Kataria, Founder of the Laughter Yoga Movement, adults need a reason to laugh, whereas children laugh for laughter’s sake, as the sun shines and water flows. One characteristic of children’s laughter is that it always come with active play. Perhaps adults laugh little because by comparison they are relatively sedentary.

In Aikido training we frequently laugh as we throw and and are thrown on the mat. The humor is not like slapstick comedy, as when somebody slips on a banana peel. Nor is from an intellectual play on words, nor a twist in an improbable situation, nor is it disrespectful. The laughter in Aikido is similar to the laughter of child’s play. It simply can’t be helped.

Find something that you can engage with in such a way that it makes you laugh! In Japanese this kind of activity is known as a shumi (趣味)often translated as a hobby or pastime, but the etymology of the characters (走 (run) + 取 (take) = to go towards. 味 = to taste) show it to mean a joyful pursuit. To run after, to taste, and to enjoy!

Laughter is at the core of Leisure, the 8th Frame of Life in the Mandala Chart. No matter how much money you spend on leisure, without laughter it is all a grim business. Store bought pleasure doesn’t dig as deep, or last as long as the enjoyment that wells up from inside. Leisure should be rejuvenating, invigorating, delighting, yet when forced it can be draining, damaging, debauching.

Leisure is not just for weekends and holiday vacations. It is something that you can enjoy all year round, even as you work, if you approach it with the right spirit, that of enjoying what you do. Perhaps the 8th category could be renamed Laughter, the royal road to enjoyment.

Write Your Wish List

Takezawa Shingō, a fellow Director of the Mandala Chart Association, bestselling author and consultant of Ganbare Shachō, suggests a great list for Leisure in his booklet Mandala Wishlist (published in Japanese). With permission, here is a portion translated from the Leisure list to get you started.

  • To have a secret pleasure
  • See a favorite movie or play
  • Hold or participate in a special event
  • Engage in an adventure
  • Experience something that makes you excited
  • Challenge to get in the Guinness Book of Records
  • Enjoy a special food or drink
  • Visit a famous restaurant or cafe
  • Have a secret place, room, or library
  • Buy a special stone or accessory
  • A favorite brand of clothing, shoes, bag, or watch
  • Start a collection of favorite items
  • Visit foreign countries or tourist spots
  • Participate in festivals or historic spots
  • Stay at hot springs and famous inns
  • Visit art museums and exhibitions
  • Enjoy nature and natural scenery

You see that these range from passive to active, from free to expensive, but all suggest a sense of excitement, of something beyond the daily grind. Moreover, the Wish List is just to get you started. You may create your own, or adapt this one to see how accessible it might be.

These can also make great starting points for conversations with a friend or partner. Perhaps you have recently had such an experience that you would like to share. Or maybe it could become the focus of something that you could plan together. Give it a try, whether it ends up as an enjoyable conversation or as a real venture, you will definitely enjoy exploring the world of Leisure. Remember that it was intended to be one of the eight fields of life, and not to be ignored or overdone.

The Whole in the Part, the Part in the Whole

Another way to view the frame of Leisure is not as a separate compartment, but as an element of each and every frame. Can you find an element of Leisure in Health, Business, Finance, Home, Society, Personal, Study, and Leisure itself? The Mandala Chart makes no separation. Nor should we.

One way to do this is to allow an element of Play, and element of Fun in everything that you do. Don’t take yourself too seriously. A twinkle in your eye, a mouth that easily breaks into a smile, and a ready laugh in any situation can do wonders to keep spirits bright.

People will still drench you with their complaints, trying to cast a negative pall on life itself. Let it run off your back, and show them a better way. Ask yourself at the end of each encounter, was their an energy gain or an energy drain?

If your positive presence is not appreciated, find yourself some better company.

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