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Nothing But The Ruth!

Even Lawyers Need to Play

By Ruth Carter

Captain Kirk, in a TV episode of “Star Trek,” says, “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.” Playing is not something I do easily or often. Even in my youth, it was easier to get me to eat brussels sprouts than do something purely for fun. However, I’ve come to accept that playing is a necessity for sanity, to offset the high-stress lawyer lifestyle.

On Its Face, Play Seems So Unproductive

Sometimes I wonder how other people have so much room for downtime when my nights and weekends are filled with errands, chores, working out and writing blog posts. Where does everyone find time for frivolity?

Even when I have downtime, I often feel anxious or guilty because I feel like I could be doing something more productive.

Seeing the Benefits of Play

One of the challenges (benefits) of play is it serves no purpose except to be fun and pleasurable. Dr. Scott Eberle, vice president for play studies at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., and editor of the American Journal of Play, describes play as a “process, not a thing.”

The purpose of play is the actual experience, not achieving a greater goal.

Despite my resistance, the experts say that play is essential for problem solving, creativity, and one’s social well-being and connections with others. Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play and author of the book “Play,” claims playing “can go a long way toward boosting our productivity and happiness.”

Well, if the experts say play will make me a happier person and more creative and productive, I’m willing to give it a try.

Accepting the Challenge

A member of my business mastermind group challenged me to do one thing every month where the sole purpose is to have fun. This will give me a chance to rest my over-active analytical brain and have a few hours to relax and do something merely for the enjoyment of it.

I have a strong connection between play and physicality — and I can’t sit still. So I expect most of my fun activities will be things like going to a ropes course, riding rollercoasters, taking a paddleboard lesson, going skydiving, or trooping down the road to my neighborhood trampoline park (probably during the day when all the kids are still at school so I don’t have to share). If I want to have more mellow fun, I’ll seek out a friend to play Skip-Bo (it’s fun) or take our dogs to the park.

Photo credit: Jeff Moriarty

My fun event for January was going to a sober morning rave. (It’s a real thing.) It’s a dance party in a warehouse that starts at 6:30 a.m. on a workday with loud music, laser lights and blinking jewelry. I went to one last year and it’s almost trancelike. It’s a great way to clear my head and have fun with friends before going to the office.


Photo credit: Jeff Moriarty

What will you be doing for fun this year?

Illustration ©

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Categories: Attorney Work-Life Balance, Daily Dispatch, Nothing But The Ruth!
Originally published January 18, 2017
Last updated July 7, 2021
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Ruth Carter Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter — lawyer, writer and professional speaker — is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing on intellectual property, business, internet and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, Ruth is the author of “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” Ruth blogs at and

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