Laurent Schmitt

The Paradoxes of Free Time Publication date : October 21, 2010

Laurent Schmitt, a medical psychiatrist, is the coordinator of the psychiatry departments for Toulouse hospitals, a professor at Ranguiel Medical Faculty-Paul Sabatier University and at Mirail-Toulouse University and the president of the French-Language Psychiatric Convention’s Scientific Committee.

Does more leisure time mean more time or more constraints?
For generations, people have struggled to obtain more free time and greater access to leisure activities. And yet, the fact remains that time now poses a problem for many of us: we are incited to keep busy with a multitude of activities and distractions whose goal is to fill a void rather than to develop positive, fulfilling personal experiences. And anyone wishing to kill time now disposes of some extraordinary tools.
When the passage of time becomes a burden, the subtle relationship between time and health can explain the appearance of certain illnesses among retirees. Yet the question remains: is it possible to be cured of the curse of time-as-burden?
To rediscover true intimacy with our temporality, which is unique to each individual, we must resolve the deadlock with time by paying attention to our inner rhythms so as to gradually change them. If we are to learn to occupy and use our time better, we must turn to our imaginations while respecting the equilibrium between work and play.

• A useful reflection for anyone wishing to understand the necessary equilibrium between leisure and activities.

• How to master one’s relation with time by refusing to be overcome by that characteristic of Western societies: time bulimia.

• Tips to help readers make better use of their time and enjoy it more.