Observations and research findings indicate that people in advanced industrial societies are increasingly concerned with opportunities for leisure and what they can do in their leisure time.
The importance people attach to paid holidays and the rapid development of services for mass entertainment and recreation are signs of this increasing concern.
The term "quality of life" is difficult to define. It covers a very wide scope such as living environment, health, employment, food, family life, friends, education, material possessions, leisure and recreation, and so on. Generally speaking, the quality of life, especially as seen by the individual, is meaningful in terms of the degree to which these various areas of life are available or provide satisfaction to the individual.
As activity carried out as one thinks fit during one's spare time, leisure has the following functions: relaxation, recreation and entertainment, and personal development. The importance of these varies according to the nature of one's job and one's life-style.
Thus, people who need to exert much energy in their work will find relaxation most desirable in leisure. Those with a better education and in professional occupations may tend more to seek recreation and personal development (e.g., cultivation of skills and hobbies) in leisure.
The specific use of leisure varies from individual to individual.
Even the same leisure activity may be used differently be different individuals. Thus, the following are possible uses of television watching, a popular leisure activity: a change of experience to provide "escape" from the stress and strain of work; to learn more about what is happening in one's environment; to provide an opportunity for understanding oneself by comparing other people's life experiences as portrayed in the programmes.
In an urban society in which highly structured, fast-paced and stressful work looms large in life, experiences of a different nature, be it television watching or bird-watching, can lead to a self-renewal and a more "balanced" way of life.
Our likes and dislikes, tastes and preferences that underlie our choices of such activities as reading books, going to the cinema, camping, or certain cultural pursuits, are all related to social contexts and learning experiences. We acquire interests in a variety of things and subjects from our families, schools, jobs ,and the mass media. Basically, such attitudes amount to a recognition that leisure is an important area of life and a belief that leisure can and should be put to good use.
Professional workers in recreation services, too, will find that to impart positive leisure attitudes to the general public is essential for motivating them to use their leisure in creative and satisfying ways. Hence, it can be argued that the people with whom we come into contact in these various contexts are all likely to have exerted some influence in shaping our attitudes, interests and even skills relevant to how we handle leisure. Influence of this kind is a form of leadership.
Parents, teachers in schools, work associates and communicators in or using the mass media are all capable of arousing our potential interests. For example, the degree to which and the ways in which a school encourages participation in games, sports and cultural pursuits are likely to contribute to the shaping of leisure attitudes on the part of the students.
Schools usually set as their educational objective the attainment of a balanced development of the person. The more seriously this is sought, the more likely positive attitudes towards leisure as well as academic word will be encouraged. 休閑與引導