The Perfect Fit

1000 piece puzzle box with a lighthouseSometimes something awful happens and you need a break, time to sort things out and make sense of it. Shock numbs, but time with activity can heal. It’s about finding what works for you.

On the first day with family at the beach house, the hassles of life fade. The serious players surround the glass table with fresh mudslides at hand. They empty the box and keep it nearby for reference. Pieces are organized by shape, color or some neurotic way to sort them.

Energy fills the sunroom. The quiet contemplation is only broken when wavy edges nestle together with a snap. The satisfying vacation activity draws people in. At least for a few hours until nightly fatigue or a hankering for Fisher’s caramel popcorn becomes overwhelming. Day after day, the picture extend across the surface like a flower at sunrise on a time-lapse video, our horizons expand.

Despite the silicone oil tapenade moving around in my eye, I can still match a piece or two every summer. It’s fun. And yet, I don’t crave jigsaw puzzling away from the beach. But maybe I should reconsider the amount of time I spend testing pieces here and there. According to a study mentioned in New York‘s Science of Us section, it’s actually the best way to solve other problems of life. Like a person who thinks in the shower, or takes a walk, puzzles appear to have the power to unlock creative blocks in our brains. An activity requiring light cognitive effort allows us to short circuit a fixation on another issue. The larger issue moves to our subconscious and in time, a solution pops up.

Perhaps you’re stuck on something. Can’t forget it. Can’t move on until you figure out what to do. We all have struggles. It might be a major issue, affecting others, or maybe it’s something personal that happens frequently enough to be noticed. The next time you’re feeling stuck, try a puzzle or a walk or just shampoo your hair. Solve a problem by doing something else. It might be the break you need.

What is bothering you? How do you solve things? Has an idea recently come to you out of nowhere? What activities do you do to take your mind off a problem? Tell me about it.


17 Comments Add yours

  1. I do my best thinking falling asleep or waking up. Although walking with my dog, Cupcake is very soothing (when she’s not getting scared of cats, ladders, golf carts, or pumpkins). I do have a couple of iPad apps with jigsaw puzzles, so that’s fun, too.

    1. I never thought of a jigsaw puzzle app! Great idea. And I totally agree about the dog being soothing.

  2. herheadache says:

    I have trouble falling asleep sometimes, but that is exactly the time when I think the deepest.

    1. The brain is fascinating, isn’t it.

  3. Jenelle says:

    Susan, I find that there is so much extra “clutter” in our brains these days from constantly being plugged in to technology that taking the time to do a simple jigsaw puzzle (not that any puzzle is ever simple for me!) or going on a refreshing walk are activities that get put on the back burner. And, as you point out in this post, these simple activities are quite often what we need to unwind and process struggles in our lives. Thanks for giving me this important reminder!

    1. Enjoy your next break, Jenelle, whenever you manage to squeeze one in. With the holidays approaching, I know I’ll need a few more than usual!

  4. Trisha says:

    I sort things out best while cleaning, particularly if I’m upset or angry. I’ve been tempted to try some of the jigsaw apps for iPad. I haven’t done a real jigsaw in years. It seems like it would be more fun to do them with family, like you do on your vacations.

    1. There’s nothing like scrubbing a toilet when you’re frustrated, ha! Let me know if you try out any jigsaw puzzle apps Trisha.

  5. Casee says:

    I solve many of my problems just by getting busy doing other things or helping other people. There is something about taking the focus off of me that allows my mind to give me the answer that I need. I actually find doing the dishes by hand to give me plenty of eureka moments.

    1. I agree, moving the focus elsewhere is helpful.

  6. It’s funny you should do a post on jigsaw puzzles Susan because it was just yesterday in one of holiday shopping emails there was a few 3-D puzzles for consideration. I’ve only done a couple of 3-D puzzles years ago but as Jenelle put it with all of our connectivity these days past times like jigsaw puzzles are almost nonexistent. In reading your post I forgot how enjoyable it was just to do regular puzzles. And I completely forgot about online jigsaws that I came across about two years ago maybe. I’ll have to revisit these.

    1. Happy puzzling, Steph! Let me know if you end up recommending any 3-D ones or apps in particular.

      1. I certainly will Susan! I actually might get a couple of 3-D ones for Christmas gifts.

  7. Todd Keating says:

    I love doing the 3d puzzles or even unknotting a ball of wool or string. Even amazes my family sometimes😉

    1. Unknotting something gives me a sense of accomolishment, too. Everyone keeps talking aboutthese 3-D puzzles. I need to check one out.

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