Redefining Work and Leisure

These two terms are common terms that we come across in our everyday hustles and bustles. Often we loosely use them, not paying close attention to the weight and the profound meaning of the two terms that literally define our life and purpose as human beings dwelling on earth.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, work is defined as to perform or to fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary while leisure is defined as time free from work or duties. This skewed definition of these two terms sadly is our understanding and how we incorporate it into our lives. Growing up, very minimal information was out there to guide us on what following a career path entails. We were cultured to follow where the money is and that success translates to a good job and lots of money. We forgetting the very vital questions: Does your job make you feel fulfilled? Is it bringing the best out of you? Is it challenging you enough? Does it utilize your strengths? And I believe the most important question: Does it make you happy?

I came to understand the answers to these questions when I interacted with the World Youth Alliance Certified Training Program. My interaction with the program has really been quite an interesting journey. I, indeed, am learning to see again (pun intended for those who have gone through Chapter 5). In Chapter 6, my mind was utterly blown away when we encountered Josef Pipers works on work, leisure and spare time. He delves in the deeper meaning of work and leisure and the deeper purpose and how it serves us as human beings.

In Josef Pieper’s view, work and leisure are all put in place to shape the purpose of human existence. For man to experience full humanity, his work should be in line with his purpose. He believes that every man is created with a ‘telos’, a gift in better terms or a purpose to offer to the world. My take away from this was that your job should not only cater to your day to day needs but also be in tune with your purpose. Your job should be able to provide the right kind of challenges for you to level up; it should also give you a sense of satisfaction.

In the realm of leisure, more often than not we think we are utilizing our leisure by spending our free time in an unhealthy manner. We engage in activities that do not  help us grow as a person, sharpen our skills or better yet activities that put us on the right path to finding our sole purpose on earth. Leisure time should be the time that we engage in activities that give us a fresh perspective to life, as Josef Pieper puts it, “engaging in an activity meaningful in itself”. This just goes to show us that If we do not get leisure right, we will not get work right!

The task ahead is that Career Guidance should be given priority, this will not only be for the individual that is benefiting from the membership but also for the growth of the society at large. At an individual level, Josef Piper challenge to us is to steer on the path to finding your purpose. 


Written by Sandra Uwase, a WYA Africa intern alumna