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Puzzles! Okay so I have a love-hate relationship with puzzles because sometimes jigsaw and mindbender puzzles can be so challenging, and my patience is an aspect of myself I am working on.
I have, however, always been a fan of crosswords and word puzzle games. You should see the stacks of newspapers I’ve had over the years, just for those pages.
There is something so satisfying about thinking abstractly and making the connections to fill in the boxes! Even if you have to google or phone a friend for some of them, you get to learn new things!
Why am I talking about puzzles and games on a blog that is about self-healing? I think it should be fairly obvious, but let me explain.
We need to build and strengthen the connections in our brains that are responsible for critical thinking and problem-solving!!
As a society, we spend a ridiculous amount of time on technology, have all the conveniences at our fingertips, and only have to push a button to ask a question and get an answer. I believe it is a detriment to society that is only starting to really make its appearance since it has been around long enough now that we can see some long-term effects and the effects of those who have grown up like this.
History Of Puzzles
Puzzles have been around since the dawn of time, honestly, no joke. Humans have always been fascinated and drawn to puzzles, riddles, and solving problems. This is an aspect of what makes us human, we devour challenges and the opportunity to think outside the box.
Let’s start with Greek Mythology, the story of the Sphinx.
The Sphinx was a female monster with the body of a lion, the head and breast of a woman, an eagle’s wings, and, according to some, a serpent’s tail. She was found in the city of Thebes, she had been sent there by the gods due to some ancient crime that the city(or its King) had committed. The Sphinx would devour anyone who could not solve her riddle. She ate a lot of folks, people.
Eventually, Oidipous (Oedipus) took up the challenge, and when he solved the Sphinx’s riddle, she cast herself off the mountainside in despair. If you haven’t heard of this riddle, I will include the answer at the bottom of the post, but think about it for a moment.
What creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening?
The first discovered written riddles are close to 4,000 years old. The oldest puzzle known comes from Greece and appeared in the 3rd century B.C. The game consists of a square divided into 14 parts and the purpose is to generate different figures in these parts. I’m assuming this was not easy to do.
In Iran “puzzle locks” were made before the 17th century A.D.
Then we have the first jigsaw puzzle was created by a map engraver called John Spilsbury, in 1762.
So there is a brisk walk through the ages.
Types of Puzzles
When doing puzzles, you really can’t go wrong. They are a personal preference, but it is always good to go out of your comfort zone and try something new. If you are a whiz at crosswords, then your brain is going to be comfortable, and while this is still a brain-boosting process, trying a picture or number puzzle will create new synapses in that beautiful brain of yours.
Personally, word puzzles are my jam. I go on crossword kicks, but then a couple years ago found these word scramble puzzles that just get me fired up!
Word puzzles pack the extra punch because you are not only solving a puzzle but building your vocabulary as well.
Doing these puzzles regularly will help your brain to think outside the box(but write within it, hehe), think of words contextually, develop pattern recognition, and learn new facts that come in handy on trivia night!
Word puzzles include crosswords, riddles, word finders, and word scrambles.
It’s said that Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers does at least one crossword per day.
I have yet to do a Sudoko. Okay, maybe I tried once but found it frustrating so I went back to my crossword. I will be starting to incorporate these into my puzzle rotation.
Numbers and mathematics are really some of the original puzzles.
That’s exactly what an equation is, a puzzle to solve. These types of puzzles are great for everyday life and keep the brain sharp. You may not think you use math a lot, but start working with these puzzles and you will see how often simple math, spotting patterns, and the need to recall numbers really come into play.
#&*$! THE PUZZLES! This is what 17-year-old me said to my best friend at 11PM on a school night when I realized I was supposed to do a project for school and I needed a puzzle. I cannot recall what the project was, but off we went to Walmart to get a puzzle for my project. This memory is always what comes to mind when I think of jigsaw puzzles.
Jigsaw puzzles are the most popular tabletop game. 1.8 billion puzzles are sold each year, that’s so many! I wonder how many get completed. It takes on average about 9 hours to complete a 1,000-piece puzzle and during that time your brain is firing on all cylinders, even the agitated ones.
Rubix cubes are one of the best-selling toys in history. Don’t get me started on ridiculous fidget spinners. Folks of all ages use this puzzle consistently to work on their motor skills, concentration, and logical thinking skills.
The Tangram is a deceptively simple set of seven geometric shapes made up of five triangles (two small triangles, one medium triangle, and two large triangles), a square, and a parallelogram. I have only played around with these once or twice, but there are so many different combinations one can make with these seven pieces, and it’s not as easy as it looks.
It is extremely popular in China as there is where is believed it originated from. They can be used to develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills, perceptual reasoning (nonverbal thinking skills), visual-spatial awareness, creativity, and many mathematical concepts such as congruency, symmetry, area, perimeter, and geometry!
There are so many other types of tactile puzzles, locks, 3D puzzles, etc.
Puzzle Master has a wide array of puzzles if you want to check some out!
7 Benefits of Puzzles
- Puzzles Exercise Both Sides of Your Brain
- Improve Your Memory
- Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills
- Improve Visual and Spatial Reasoning
- Enhance Your Mood
- Lower Your Stress Levels
- Improve Your IQ Score
According to a University of Exeter study, older adults who regularly did word and number puzzles had increased mental acuity. A 2011 experiment with members of the Bronx Aging Study found that a regular regimen of crosswords might delay the onset of cognitive decline.
What a simple and entertaining way to support and enhance your brain health!
Instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, why not pick up a puzzle? You will still get the dopamine hit! As well as all these other benefits!
Doing puzzles with friends and family also creates bonding, fosters teamwork, and can open up conversations that you just wouldn’t have when watching TV or doing separate hobbies.
Healing is not always about solving a problem, or “fixing something”.
Healing is a journey, it is creating habits that add value instead of depreciating our bodies, it is enjoying ourselves!
Not all aspects of healing are painful, and we don’t want to say in the mindset “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Let’s start enhancing and supporting ourselves before we are broken!
Love and vibes,
Man. In the morning of life (childhood), the infant crawls on all fours. In the afternoon of life (adulthood), the human being walks upright on two legs. In the evening of life (elderhood), the senior citizen walks with help from a cane.