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  • Writer's pictureJessica Barker

How do you deal?

Given a deck of cards and told to deal out the deck, I think most people do it by going around a circle, dealing one card each in succession to each of the people playing. But others deal cards by giving each person a set number of cards all at once. I think a far smaller number do it the second way, but I am in the second group. People often ask me why I do it that way, and for me the answer is simple- it’s easier for me. The end result is the same, each person has an equal number of cards. Either way of dealing the cards is a valid way of distributing them that is just as random as the other, given that they have not just been taken out of the box.

Just as so many people seem to absolutely bristle at the idea of putting on your footwear sock-shoe-sock-shoe (as opposed to sock-sock-shoe-shoe), for some reason, this doesn’t seem to make much sense to some people. I understand the other way too, but for me, this is the way I choose to do it. But I want you to think now about having a bunch of people sitting at a table. Each one has a water glass to fill. Would you go around and fill each person’s cup an inch, then go around again until you have filled everyone’s cup? You might, if you were trying to very evenly distribute a limited amount of something, but more likely you will fill each cup all the way at once.

Some people live their life in a way that it makes the most sense to fill a little at each time, or deal the cards one at a time. And others will fill the cups to the top all at once. Depending on YOUR situation, and whether you feel like you are dealing cards or filling cups, either one is a just fine way of the accomplishing your life’s tasks.

In the end, both ways are just as balanced. You may choose to work very hard for a week, then rest for a week. You may also choose to work longer hours every day and have shorter rest in between tasks rather than large periods. And you will probably have times in your life you will need to switch between one and the other.

There are also so many other ways you could distribute the cards. You could have each person take theirs out of the stack after spreading them out all over the floor or table, you could deal two or three at a time, and start all over again. And think about all the different variations that might look a little different, but end up being just as random- do you pass the cards out clockwise, counterclockwise? Do you take a sip of whatever between each card? And when do you deal them? Most of the time it happens right before a game is played, but is there any reason in some situations it couldn't be done well before? It can be difficult to challenge our thinking about the way that cards are dealt, because there just happens to be a typical way that it is done. Using everyday tasks to expand our mental flexibility can help us think about how we do other things in life.

In how we go about choosing to accomplish a task, or in how we choose to treat our mental mental health, how we choose to deal is inherently personal, and there are so many valid ways. So when it comes to how YOU deal, just remember you get to choose, and one way will likely not be better than the other. Do what works for you.

An invitation: If you are wanting to work on your own mental flexibility, or if you are just curious as to how it feels to do something different that you typically do the same way, the next time you are playing cards (or any other activity), maybe challenge yourself to do it in a way that is a little bit different for you. Notice anything that comes up as you do. By practicing things that might be a little uncomfortable for you in situations that are low risk, such as an every day game of cards, we can create new mental pathways that can help us be more flexible when we are faced with something more difficult.

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