DD HQ here. Do you feel like the idea of ‘leisure time’ is nonexistent?
We know, your over-scheduled, busy life feels like there’s no extra room to budge. And any time you may want to do something leisurely, a voice pipes up in the back of your mind that reminds you - your To Do list is waiting 😵💫
The world wants us to believe that leisure time is wasteful and unproductive, but in fact, it’s at the basis of much of our mental and physical rejuvenation. And, when we see it as wasteful we not only enjoy it less, but feel worse overall.
In this week’s Head in the Clouds, we’re experimenting with something different - by giving you all access to something that lives on the Daydreamers Member-only app, for free. It’s part of the paradigm-shifting ideas that we share with our members in order to help them expand their definition of creativity, well-being and their perspective in daily life.
Today’s topic is a cultural, philosophical and scientific dive deep into one of our favorite topics: High Quality Leisure.
Before we get into it, if this is intriguing to you - and you want more ways to rejuvenate your naturally creative brain - we’re running a new experiment at DD HQ. Until this Sunday, you can sign up for a new version of DD Early Access using the invite code ‘experiment’ via our Early Access Sign Up:
Ready to 🧠 your mind when you learn that you have more leisure time than you think - and there’s more expansive ways spend it? Let’s dive in.
Paradigm Shift: High Quality Leisure
a Daydreamers dictionary to reframe our creative POV.
The DD POV: What is leisure time?
At Daydreamers, we like to think of our ‘leisure-time’ in two main buckets: Low Quality Leisure, and High Quality Leisure. This perspective sums up the difference from our POV: “Low Quality Leisure [pleasure] is addictive and animal, whereas High Quality Leisure [enjoyment] is elective and human.”
High Quality Leisure, from a Daydreamers perspective, looks like engaging in activities that fill you up instead of drain you - like creative flow, mind-wandering without a purpose, and spending time with people we care about. Low Quality Leisure, on the other hand, includes activities like scrolling or binging TV - stuff that makes us feel depleted afterwards.
It can often feel like there isn’t enough space in the day to take part in High Quality Leisure, but, you actually have more ‘leisure time’ than you think. For example, did you know that we spend, on average, 11.1 hours consuming content…per day?
Let’s explore why ‘free’ time is more free than we think; and even more importantly, it can rejuvenate your creative brain.
The world’s POV: Leisure in the current paradigm
In a world that is always rushing to get more done in a shorter amount of time, one that values a person’s worth by their output - it seems like having “free time solely for enjoyments sake” is a concept that’s nearly extinct. Even more, the time that we do have to ourselves is filled with dopamine-addicting, screen-based behaviors that make it easy to fall into an hours long rabbit-hole.
But, it’s not just technology’s fault. Back in 1932, Bertrand Russell was writing about our complicated relationship with leisure time and enjoyment. He said: “The modern world unlearned us how to enjoy leisure time, making us think we need to be productive in order to be worthy.”
Feel familiar? It shocked us to learn, too, that this hamster-wheel has been going on for nearly 100 years.
But, believing leisure is ‘bad’ or a waste of time actually worsens our mental health - increasing depression, anxiety and stress. Even more, when we solely believe that leisure time must have productive outcomes, it reduces our enjoyment and happiness.
So, turning our hobbies into side-hustles that revolve around monetization or perfect outputs, continue to drive the hamster wheel - without giving our brains an outlet to rejuvenate.
Why it matters: How does High Quality Leisure impact well-being?
High quality leisure at Daydreamers means exploring your creative potential with everyday creativity. Everyday creativity is an approach to daily life that emphasizes following curiosity, openness to new experiences, deeper awareness + connection, and a lot of what we call, ‘tinkering.’
At the core of it, HQL isn’t about being the best at something – it’s about savoring the process + getting into creative flow.
From a scientific perspective, HQL activities are associated with ‘wakeful rest’ (aka creative activities, daydreaming, or mind-wandering) and switch on your Default Mode Network, providing “mental repair.” This complex web of brain regions is associated with our imagination, creativity and meaning-making. It also enhances cognitive acts, like long-term memory recall, retrospection + reflection, and a sense of feeling connected with ourselves.
Plus, it gives you a break from responding to emotional + environmental cues. HQL can support our growth, resilience, and potential to thrive.
On the flip side, next time you’re ‘craving’ a rabbit-hole scroll, keep this idea in mind: Low Quality Leisure activities don’t just make us feel worse - they actually impact our brain. Scrolling activates several different areas of our brain simultaneously: image processing, stress + emotional responses via the limbic system. And, it keeps us stuck in the Focus Network (where we spend all day while we’re working). Even if we might associate LQL with ‘resting’ the experience our brain is having is very much online.
So, creating room in our day that isn’t defined by achievement or productivity helps to expand our minds and enhance our imagination.
In the DD Universe: Experiment with HQL IRL
It might seem frivolous at first to prioritize leisure time at all, especially one that’s not tied to an output or side-hustle, but, it helps to know that it’s expanding your brain, emotions and creativity.
We know that practicing high quality leisure may feel like it takes more effort at first, but in the long-run it’s core to living a fulfilling, healthy life - full stop. When we begin to exert autonomy over our time and everyday choices, it helps us lead with intrinsic motivation in other parts of life, too (and you can see those data-driven changes in the DD app!).
Here are some of the ways that we’ve organized the DD universe so you can prioritize HQL more often:
(1) Schedule it into your life: We’ve found that DD members who schedule creative time into their schedule, especially in the beginning stages, are able to turn it into a long-term habit more effectively.
That’s why you’ll get a nudge on certain days of the week - think of it as a reminder for your creative habits (and any other HQL you want to experiment with).
It might seem counterintuitive, but until it becomes a natural pathway for your brain, it’s important to create boundaries and structure. Treating HQL just as important as other "meetings" or important To Dos is key. You might actively put time on your calendar, even if it’s just for 15-minutes.
(1) Create a HQL repository: If your HQL is in a sealed box under your bed, it’s normal to ruminate on how much effort it’ll take to set it up (and end up scrolling instead). That’s because our brain naturally takes the easiest path to dopamine, a feel-good chemical.
Do a bit of upfront thinking and expressing to create a visual representation of all the different forms of HQL you might enjoy practicing - and what types of feelings you might associate them with (e.g. feeling overwhelmed on Sunday nights = create a mood map with your pastels).
You may try creating an environment that makes it as easy as possible to reach for your Daydreamers tools instead of your phone. Some members leave their scratch pad, for example, next to their desk so they can doodle during stressful meetings - if you try that, we won’t tell 👀
(3) Realize where your 11.1 hours of consuming content are: We all have a lot more time than we think (even if it doesn’t feel that way). Usually, LQL sneaks into our day during the in-between moments - right before bed, or transitioning out of work time.
Become a ‘mental detective’ and observe the small moments in your day when you turn to LQL, especially when you’re not paying attention to it. Are there common themes?
Chat with the DD crew to see where you can substitute LQL with HQL more often. HQ recommendation: start small, and let your creative brain do its job.
When we’re able to reframe how we spend our time each day, it helps us feel expansive rather than depleted. You might ask yourself this weekend, where are spots in your daily life that you can inject more High Quality Leisure in order to feel more free?
We can’t wait for us all to start a High Quality Leisure Revolution 🛸 Tell us how you’re prioritizing leisure time more often. Until then, see you in the DD Universe -
Katina + Dupi
and the entire team @ DD HQ
Want to join the High Quality Leisure Revolution? We’re here for it - use the invite code ‘experiment’ to get access to our next cohort of members at Daydreamers. Your creative brain is waiting 🧠
Ideas from the DD Crew 🛸
Remember last week how we talked about Collective Pondering? Our DD community has been thriving - and this week, we dove deep into what ‘leisure’ really means. Here are some of our favorite ideas from the crew:
I've really embraced leisure time this year, but it did take quite a mindset shift. To me, it is just spending time doing anything I want with no expectations. Could be watching a movie or sitting at the beach or something more involved like cooking a new recipe or anything really!
Leisure, by definition, is “free time,” so… for me, leisure activities involve nearly anything I want to do during that free time, and less things I have to do that take that tone away from me.
And it's also a mindset. When I'm stressed or anxious, that empty time could be viewed as boredom or loneliness instead of an opportunity for leisure.
What does leisure feel like for you? Is it a ‘myth’ or a necessary element of life?
I love the concept of two buckets: high quality leisure and low quality leisure. I am going to pay more attention to my quality time!