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A Whole New Mind: Play

I’ve grown up thinking work shouldn’t be fun. If you’re having fun, it means you’re not getting anything done. The truth is that people who are having fun at work are the one’s who are most productive.

A Whole New Mind discusses the importance of play in life and at work. The book breaks down play into three parts: games, humor, joyfulness.

The book discusses how games can be a way to unleash creativity in employees. Many games require one to use both the left side and right side of the brain. Not only do you have to strategies, but often you must cooperate with other individuals in order to win.

The second element of play is humor. Developing your sense of humor is an exercise of creativity. It often requires one to step back, look at the big picture, and see what types of humors connections that exist in life. It also requires one to shed new light or to present things in completely different ways. Think of the funniest jokes you’ve heard. What makes them funny? I’m sure it’s either the joke presents a theme in a radically different way or it makes some sort of funny connection between two conflicting ideas.

The final element is joyfulness. Successful people are happy people. They enjoy what they do and try to make others happy as well.

How does play apply to law? The legal field has a reputation of being stuffy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The law can and should be a giant exercise in play. Take law school exams. I think there are some parallels between one’s attitude during an exam and test scores. Those who look at exams as a dreadful, soul destroying experiences walk away with bad scores. Those who look at exams as a game or puzzle to be beaten walk away with better scores. I think law students can do much better on exams if they look at the hypo as a game their teacher has made. Class is where you learn the rules (the law) of the game. Winning the game (the exam) is just a matter of using the rules. I know the analogy is simplistic, but it works for me.

Additionally, having a playful attitude at work can combat the “unhappy lawyer syndrome” that plagues the American legal field. Have some fun with your fellow associates. Play a joke on them. Make work a fun place to be.

Here’s what the book suggests one can do to improve their sense of play.

  1. Join a laughter club. A Dr. in India has started laughter clubs. People go there just to laugh. No one tells jokes, you just start laughing. It sounds weird, I know. But apparently participants in laughter clubs have shown signs of healthier and longer lives. Think about the last time you laughed really hard. How did you feel afterwards? Probably pretty dang good. That’s because laughing releases hormones and endorphins in the body that benefit us not only psychologically but also physically.
  2. Play the cartoon captions game. This exercise will help develop your sense of humor. Find old New Yorker cartoons and write your own caption.
  3. Play video games. Despite what you’re mother told you, video games are good for you. Today’s games often require a player to strategies and work together as a team. Why not have some fun as you develop team work skills and creativity.