Human development and history of puzzles are intertwined. We’re attracted to puzzles because we like to spot and explore patterns. Spotting patterns is the key to almost all stages of human learning. There is no culture without puzzles and there is no human being alive who does not understand what a puzzle is. Nearly half of all North Americans enjoy piecing together a jigsaw at least once a year and 1 in 5 puzzles at least monthly. We puzzle to relax, for fun and relieve stress. Maybe you will think that puzzles are made only for pure entertainment. But puzzles are more than just a game. You need to incorporate games like word craze into your lifestyle.
What makes a puzzle a puzzle?
A puzzle must be challenging to the solver and it can also have different methods to solve. If a puzzle has to be inherently challenging, what’s a puzzle for you might not be a puzzle for me. Different puzzles may be more related to age like kids puzzle for example. But there are some puzzles that in the first moment they look simple but that in reality are complicated. Some puzzles may even take hours to solve and more brainpower.
Why should we bother deliberately trying to challenge ourselves by solving puzzles?
Puzzles introduce us to problem solving. They allow us to adapt to difficult problems that we encounter in our real lives everyday. When we solve puzzles we need to be able to compare hidden information that we connect to prior knowledge already stored in our brains and thus we create new ideas. Puzzles are the perfect way to exercise problem solving as well. We associate puzzles of any kind from crosswords to escape rooms with an imminent defined reward, winning the game or solving the puzzle. Everything we do is a step towards getting that reward.
Puzzles can be solved in different ways. You can use your analytical way of thinking or just try to be creative. Most of the time we have to rewire the way we approach a problem. We have to switch up our methods and we feel good when our approach works. Working on puzzles and problems that require back and forth switching from deep analysis to sudden out of the box insight is good for your brain health. It keeps you nimble and flexible and this cognitive flexibility is a powerful tool. You can use this type of thinking to solve real life problems. Puzzles makes an actual physiological difference in our brain. Solving and finding the correct answer is called the EUREKA effect. It’s that relief pleasure and triumph all at once.
When we give our brains new experiences, challenges, tests and even puzzles, we strengthen cell connections so that our brains overall functions improves. Just how we work out our bodies, we need to start exercising our minds with puzzles, as a part of an active and daily lifestyle.