This paper presents the relationship that exists between the family’s use of their leisure time and the level of happiness that the family obtains from the quality time they spent with each family member. In this context, the concept of use of leisure time is defined as the amount of time that a family allots for leisure activities, identified both objectively and subjectively. On the other hand, the level of happiness in this paper’s context pertains to the overall level of satisfaction and gladness that the family obtains from performing the leisure activities, together with their other family members. Given these definitions, this paper presents evidence of the positive correlation that exists between a family’s use of leisure time and the family’s overall level of happiness as a whole.
Happiness is one of the most complex philosophical concepts that is often deeply sought by every individual being. One of the most fundamental definitions of happiness pertains to this concept as a state wherein a person attains enjoyment, satisfaction, pleasure, joy, and serenity (Dilman, 1982). There are many things that make a person happy and this could either stem from something that he is grateful for or something that he enjoys and appreciates. When people take interest on something, that is usually their source of satisfaction, enjoyment and happiness; thus, without these interests which could appear in many forms, happiness may rarely be achieved (Dilman, 1982). Same is true with the family’s level of happiness as a whole. Since each family is comprised of every individual being in pursuit for happiness, this influences the level or amount of happiness that fills an entire family. According to Rotter, happiness in the family may equate to the high-arousal of certain positive emotions which may include exhilaration, gladness and amusement (Dilman, 1982). Interestingly, it is this same level of happiness which creates an urge among families to become more playful, that is, in the broadest sense of the term. This is because “playful”, in relation to a family’s level of happiness, may also pertain to either an artistic or intellectual type of play wherein an entire family derives a certain amount of satisfaction (Rotter, 2000).
The source of happiness for each family completely varies from one family to another. For instance, while some families obtain happiness from living a luxurious life, others obtain happiness from spending quality time with their family members, as in the case of many parents to their children (Daly, 1996). An interesting fact is that many children also obtain happiness from spending quality time with their parents and as such, enables them to perform better in school and develop social and cognitive aspects better and faster than other children who rarely have quality time spent with their parents and other family members (Bianchi & Robinson, 1997). Miller argues that it is not surprising to discover that children immediately obtain happiness from spending time with their parents and other family members as the family is the ultimate source of emotional sustenance and companionship (Bianchi & Robinson, 1997). Nevertheless, while is it already an established fact that the family obtains a certain level of happiness from simply spending quality time with their beloved members, it is still rarely done by families due to many factors including the time pressure phenomenon and their lack of awareness and knowledge on the relationship between leisure and the family’s overall satisfaction (Eriksson, Rice, & Goodin, 2007). This paper intends to examine this special correlation that allegedly exists between the family’s use of their leisure time and the family’s overall level of happiness and satisfaction as a whole.
The Relationship between the Family’s Use of Leisure Time and their Level of Happiness
In the recent years, more and more countries have been acknowledging the importance of “family togetherness” or the increased use of family’s time intended for leisure and enjoyment. The main aim of family togetherness as a concept is to enable the husband, wife and their children to effectively spend their time together while performing activities that enhance and develop their positive relationship with one another (Miller, 1995; Clark, Harvey, & Shaw, 1990). Many reports show that the increased time use of families on leisure activities drew them together and increased their satisfaction with their family life and decreased the presence of conflicts, specifically, marital conflicts (Clark, Harvey, & Shaw, 1990; Daly, 1996).
According to Zabriskie & McCormick (2001), there have been several other research conducted in the past which also provide evidence on the development of positive relationship among families in line with family leisure activities and recreation. These researches prove that family bonding and satisfaction automatically increases the more time families spend with leisure activities. When it comes to the definition of leisure time, particularly, the type of leisure activities that families engage in, this may differ depending on the overall personality of the family involved. For example, most families consider sports engagements as a leisure activity or a time spent for leisure while other families prefer to spend time at home and play boardgames together. Other families on the other hand may prefer spending their leisure time out of town or out of the country while some other families already consider going on a picnic in a nearby park as a leisure activity (Clark, Harvey, & Shaw, 1990).
While this may vary depending on what a family objectively and subjectively defines as leisure time, the more important fact is that an increased time spent for leisure, increases the overall bond, satisfaction, enjoyment and happiness among families (Daly, 1996; Bianchi & Robinson, 1997; Clark, Harvey, & Shaw, 1990). Not only that, Miller (1995) also asserts that increased time spent for leisure purposes, strengthens the family’s companionship and thus heightens effective family functioning. Moreover, Zabriskie & McCormick (2001) state that another important consequence of an increased time spent for leisure among families is tightened family cohesion. Any form of physical, psychological and emotional bonding that family members engage in, increases their positive relationship with one another, as well as their overall satisfaction with their family life (Zabriskie & McCormick, 2001).
Unfortunately, the modern-day culture does not emphasize too much on the importance of the family’s time use for leisure activities. For instance, although “free time” is given by employers to their workers and employees, these “free time” is still not being used or devoted on leisure activities spent with families. To many, “free time” simply means resting from work or time allotted for sleeping, personal care or family maintenance and not on spending some quality leisure time with the family (Peterson, 1981). As a consequence of this, even the amount of time children spend on their daily activities are mostly allotted on either their school or with their friend and peers. Thus, behavior problems usually arise in the case of many children as the leisure time they are supposed to spend with their parents and other family members, is oftentimes cut off (Hofferth & Sandberg, 2001). On the other hand, on the part of the adult family members, the issue on spending quality leisure time with the children and other family members also prove to be quite perennial (Blekesaune, 2005). This is mainly because of the fact that in the case of many parents and other adult family members, work obligations and responsibilities, compel them to sacrifice their supposed time spent on leisure activities. Sadly, this often causes many of them to become generally dissatisfied with their lives and even on their family life (Blekesaune, 2005).
Indeed, there are numerous evidences that display the link between dissatisfaction & unhappiness in relation to the lack of family time devoted to leisure while there are also numerous evidences which prove the correlation between the family’s use of leisure time and their increased level of happiness (Clark, Harvey, & Shaw, 1990; Bianchi & Robinson, 1997; Blekesaune, 2005; Daly, 1996; Miller, 1995). Thus, it may only be asserted that there is a positive correlation between the family’s use of leisure time and their level of happiness, such that: (a) the increased amount of time spent for leisure by the family, the greater the level of happiness, satisfaction and enjoyment that a family obtains, while (b) the decreased amount of time spent for leisure by the family, the lesser the level of happiness, satisfaction and enjoyment that a family obtains. Undoubtedly, this assertion is in line with the many researches conducted in the past which also contend that the family’s overall bond, closeness, satisfaction and happiness effectively increases, the more time families spend with their other family members on leisure activities.
To conclude, there is indeed a positive correlation that exists between the family’s use of their leisure time and the level of happiness that the family obtains as a whole. Specifically, the level of happiness and satisfaction of a family is strongly influenced by the amount of time that family makes use of and allots for leisure activities. Although leisure activities may vary in terms of every family’s own definition and classification of the term “leisure”, this does not obstruct the family from gaining a certain level of satisfaction and gladness from performing leisure activities together with their other family members. Interestingly, aside from enabling families to gain an increased amount of happiness, performing leisure activities together enables families to increase their “togetherness”, family cohesion, and satisfaction with their family life. This is because the different forms of physical, psychological and emotional bonding that family members engage in, generally increases their positive outlook in life as well as their positive relationship with one another.
Also, regardless of the the type of leisure activities that families perform together, for as long as they are able to obtain a relatively high amount of enjoyment and satisfaction from it, it will further build up their overall level of happiness as an entire family. This is because as each family member enjoys and obtains pleasure and satisfaction from the leisure activities they engage in, they immediately gain a certain level of happiness that they are able to share with the people around them or the people closest to them. Hence, whether it is a sports engagement, play boardgames together, spending time out of town or out of the country or going on a picnic in a nearby park, for as long as all the family members get to enjoy their time with their other family members, it is a certainty that the family’s level of happiness will increase.
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