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Book Review: The Game of Life and How to Play It

In a nutshell: If life is thought of as a game, we are motivated to learn and apply the rules for our own happiness.

Book Review: The Game of Life and How to Play It

In a nutshell: If life is thought of as a game, we are motivated to learn and apply the rules for our own happiness.

Until now, you may have conceived of life as a battle:your might and will against the rest or, alternatively, the pain of constant struggle.

However, if you were to see life as a game, you would worry less about the outcomes and focus on the rules and laws that can lead you to success. This is the path of less resistance and more time for world wonder. By taking it, you choose to be a person of faith instead of fear.

For Florence Scovell Shinn, the rules were to be found in the Old and New Testaments. Much of what is in her 1925 classic, such as the laws of non-resistance, karma, and forgiveness, are to be found in Eastern holy books and the stated goal of her work is universal: a person can achieve the ‘square of life’, the four points of health, wealth, love, and perfect self-expression, if they attune themselves with the unchanging principles that govern life. This total wellbeing was, she believed, our ‘divine right’.

Some principles from the book are described below.

The divine design

Do you ever get a picture of what you could achieve or the person you could be? You have received a snapshot of your ‘divine design’ from the universe, showing you this image is within yourself.

Do not pursue things that have nothing to do with the real you and would only make you dissatisfied if you were to achieve them. Ask for a sign or a message to tell you what your divine design is and it will be revealed.

Divine right and selection

We should only ask for something if it is to be ‘by divine right’. A woman was infatuated with a man who did not treat her very well. Scovell Shinn made her repeat something like: ‘If he is divinely selected for me, he will be mine. If he is not, I will not want him anyway.’ Sure enough, she fell for someone else who matched all her ideals.


Playing the game of life successfully involves following what works, instead of battling what you do not like. This change from a view of life in terms of struggle to a simple faith in good outcomes will transform your life.

Continually send out messages of goodwill and blessing to those close to you, to your work colleagues, even to your nation. This not only gives you peace but you will find yourself ‘protected’ from harm and wrath.

Faith over fear

‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord.’ Many times the Bible says that the battle is not humankind’s but God’s. What we must learn to do is ‘stand still’ and let God, or the superconscious mind within, go to work.

The power of words

Anyone who does not know the power of words, the author said, is ‘behind the times’. Each of us has an ongoing conversation with ourselves, never realising how it affects, for better or worse, the way we live out our life. Whatever words we say to ourselves fall into our subconscious mind as ‘fact’, therefore we must take care about the internal and external words we utter.

‘God is my supply’

Scovell Shinn would remind clients worried about money that ‘God is my supply’. She made them affirm: ‘Spirit is never too late. I give thanks that I have received the money on the invisible plain and that it manifests on time.’

But it is not enough merely to say the right words and have faith: we need to demonstrate to our subconscious mind that we expect to receive. ‘Man must prepare for the thing he has asked for, when there isn’t the slightest sign of it in sight.’ Acting ‘as if’ opens the way for gain.

Final comments

Although written in New York in the 1920s and full of religious references, this book now has cult status. It ‘salutes the divinity’ in us and restores a sense of direction and confidence. If you keep an open mind as you read it, its insights and affirmations can have great effects.

Florence Scovell Shinn

By profession an artist and book illustrator, Scovell Shinn taught her philosophies in New York for many years. Her down-to-earth style and humour endeared her to many people who might not otherwise have listened to spiritual advice. She wrote a number of books and The Game of Life was her classic work.

In a similar vein

  • Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (1994)
  • Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization (1978)

Extracted from 50 SELF-HELP CLASSICS: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life by Tom Butler-Bowdon, published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing in paperback at £12.99. To order your copy with free postage and packaging (UK only) phone 0207 239 0360 or email:  

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