In his book A Whole New Mind, author Daniel Pink theorized that we were moving from an economy that depended on left brain, sequential thinking to one that valued right brain creativity and synthesizing. To foster these right brain traits, he advocated doing more of six things, including play.

“Lightheartedness, humor, games and laughter are critical among the seriousness,” Pink wrote. 

A Harvard study takes this line of thinking a bit further and suggests that not only does play help us become more creative, it also contributes to people being more generous and ethical! And all it takes is “reminders of children, infant to age 8 or 9” to trigger this behavior.

This could include something as indirect as a child care center, nursery or kindergarten within a two-mile radius of the office. “It is not only the presence of a child;…it’s the idea of a child” that makes people behave differently.

Think about what you could do to create a climate that fosters play and reminders of children. Covering some meeting room tables in butcher paper and supplying crayons. Having “mind games” and toys available while people are waiting. Being intentional about the artwork that graces your walls. Encouraging pictures of family and perhaps your youngest clientele. Offering child care on-site. 

There are many simple ways to add a child-like element to your work space, and now you can add generosity and ethical behavior to the list of what you gain by doing so. Maybe you should take advantage of the back-to-school sales to stock up on bargain crayons and Play Dough to add to your meeting room!

— beth triplett

Thanks to Jennifer Henry for sharing.

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, 2005

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