Work Life Philosophy: Play

January 15, 2018 Bill Davis

In this blog excerpted from an upcoming Pankey Insider article, Dr. Bill Davis explores the contributions of Richard C. Cabot to Pankey Philosophy. Here, he focuses specifically on the concept of ‘play’ and how it can improve your work life:

The Philosophy of ‘Play’

Play is not merely recreation—it is “re-creation,” the child-like spirit that helps people renew themselves through all of their activities, including work. In his book, What Men Live By, Cabot compares the way a child walks to school—alive, aware, wandering, wondering—and the way many adults trudge to work—solemn, self-absorbed, head down, unaware of their surroundings.  

Notice how you walk down the street. What “background music” might accompany you? If it’s a dirge, experiment with smiling, breathing deeply, noticing your surroundings—even if you don’t feel like it. You might be amazed at how positively people respond to you.  

“Play,” Dr. Cabot says, “keeps the soul alive.” Play can be revitalizing, particularly in situations of overwork and stress. Dr. Carl O. Simonton, the noted oncologist, uses juggling to relax.

Some dentists enjoy the use of humor. One dentist, for example, invites his patients to send him relevant cartoons, which he laminates and posts on his bulletin board. He says seeing them reminds both him and his patients to “lighten up.”

Play is a means of expression. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” But play is more than “dull boy” insurance. It is an end in itself, a way of expressing yourself in the world.  

A friend tells of an old man who spent his days on a park bench talking with and entertaining people who passed by. No matter how poorly he was feeling, he shared with others “the jewels of daily life,” the gifts of humor and playfulness. Youngsters in particular were attracted to him, as they loved his stories and good humor.  

To be continued …

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About Author

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Bill Davis

William J. Davis DDS, MS is practicing dentist and a Professor at the University of Toledo in the College Of Medicine. He has been directing a hospital based General Practice Residency for past 40 years. Formal education at Marquette, Sloan Kettering Michigan, the Pankey Institute and Northwestern. In 1987 he co-authored a book with Dr. L.D. Pankey, “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry”. Bill has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 50 years. They have three adult sons and four grandchildren. When not practicing dentistry he teaches flying.

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