OK, think back across your life. When, if ever, did you work on puzzles? Either you were a kid and you worked on a puzzle because you were a kid. Or, your family was on vacation, like at a winter cabin or summer lake house where there was no TV and before cell phones were prevalent.
You would work on a puzzle because there was really not much else to do. Either it was snowing outside, or you had already worn yourself out at the beach. And now you just needed something to occupy your time, some manual exercise to keep your brain occupied in a benign manner.
If this was the case for you, as it was for me, puzzles only came into play as a last resort. Everything else was either out of range (tv, pager, cell phone) or already taken care of (washing dishes, laundry, making meals). So, there was nothing much left to do but work on a puzzle.
A new understanding came to me recently. I have been craving a summer paradise get-a-way but don’t have the strength to get there. It would actually be too disruptive to my health to travel at this time. Somehow I thought to distill down the effects of puzzle making, to get the benefit of a paradise state of mine, without actually travelling. And it’s totally worked!
Working on a puzzle feels like meditation to me. When I first dumped out all the pieces, some old puzzle strategies came flooding back to my memory. Pull out all the edge pieces first. Sort out color sets, the pieces that look like the tablecloth, get those all together next. It was so much fun and exciting to learn that my puzzle solving skillset still lived deep within me though I haven’t touched a puzzle in decades.
While I was leaning over the puzzle table, weird sensations began arising in my brain. Like this was all familiar, but the puzzle piece seeking software in my brain hadn’t been activated for a while. After a couple days, it felt comfortable again. I wondered what constantly checking my smartphone had done to those puzzle solving parts of my brain…
So, I hadn’t traveled anywhere, but I was reaping the benefits of puzzle time. And I could have done laundry instead and I still have access to wifi, if I wanted it… but I chose to pretend I am far away at a lake house and nothing else is of any urgency.
I reached the desired state of mind – paradise mind!
As a bonus. I found as pieces, then blocks of pieces came together, I was really excited. And then I found that I was saying really encouraging and celebratory things in my mind to myself. I’d notice a piece across the table and instantly know it went with the canning jar lids and before thinking I snapped it into place. It felt so intuitive and I complimented myself on how well this was all fitting together. I’d amaze myself with how pieces would jump out at me and I’d know instantly where they belonged. So besides paradise-mind, I’m also being exposed to positive self-esteem talk and that’s just the cherry on top of the get-a-way!
Now I want to hear from you. What is your magic paradise tool? What can transport you to a vacation mindset? And if you're into puzzles, what's your top puzzle organizing strategy? Share a comment below and let me know!