When we’re confined to our homes during a pandemic, we can discover lessons in the most unlikely of places.
I’ve done a WHOLE lot of puzzling during the pandemic, let me tell you.
And it occurred to me the other day that, crazy as it may seem, there are some most fantastic lessons I’ve learned from those countless hours studying 1,000+ puzzle pieces and figuring out how on earth to put them back together again.
So, without further ado, I present to you: life lessons from puzzling.
1) When you’re committed to doing something, it doesn’t matter where you start, so long as you start.
How often do we become paralyzed, unable to dive into a goal or project we know we want to achieve, simply because we don’t know exactly where to begin? The idea that whether or not we do things in just the right order or go about things in just the right way will make or break our efforts is an illusion. Plus, often we won’t know our second or third step until we finish our first. So don’t worry about where you begin. Just begin!
2) When an approach isn’t getting you anywhere – change it.
Who was it who said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity? Oh right, I think it was Albert Einstein. I can’t tell you how many times I thought for sure the easiest way to start a puzzle was to pick out all the bright blue pieces, but then after an hour of banging my head against the wall discovered, well, that’s not working so let me try something else. If the aforementioned “first step” isn’t allowing you to find flow (or any step along the way for that matter), try something else.
3) The happiness that comes with victory is always short-lived. Better to choose projects where you’ll enjoy the process itself.
I did so many puzzles in 2020, and yet every time I finish one, I’m consistently struck by how quickly my satisfaction over finishing it wanes. Now don’t get me wrong – when after two months I finally finished the 1,000 piece puzzle of Diego Rivera’s famous Detroit Industry Mural, I quite literally jumped for joy. But three hours later? The feeling had faded, and I knew it was time to put it back in the box. Study after study is showing us that happiness isn’t a result of circumstance but is rather a practiced habit. Besides, which sounds better to you: suffering while you chase down something that will bring you temporary joy, or simply enjoying the heck out of yourself all along the way?