Jigsaw puzzles have been around since the late 1700s and have been used for education and entertainment alike. Playing puzzles often involves a mix of frustration and satisfaction – elements that keep puzzlers returning for more.
Multiple studies have been conducted on the relationship between jigsaw puzzles and brain health. Life is full of challenges and complexities, and jigsaw puzzles are a stimulating tool that engages the mind while simultaneously providing stress relief. It has even been suggested that doing puzzles for work can make you a better employee.
But beyond all this, people that do puzzles (aptly named dissectologists) engage in the activity because they enjoy them.
The Psychology of Why We Love Puzzles
People enjoy puzzles for several reasons. Yet it is often more than just a desire for a pleasurable escape from reality. Largely, puzzles provide the satisfaction one often receives from other forms of play. Fitting together pieces of a puzzle and putting them in their proper place not only teaches people the inner workings of the world but also where they fit into it.
6 Reasons We Enjoy Jigsaw Puzzles
There’s no denying that puzzles can be addicting. Here are six reasons why we continue to be drawn to puzzle-solving.
1. Puzzles are cathartic.
When playing with puzzles, you’re essentially making your own fun. Moving pieces around and trying to figure out where they fit is a transformative process, not only for the puzzle but also for the puzzler.
2. Puzzles are confined.
Most often, putting jigsaw puzzles together is a solo activity (though they can certainly be completed with others, too). Puzzles offer an escape and the puzzler often has a designated puzzling spot to be able to work on the jigsaw in peace.
3. Puzzles are competitive.
Puzzles provide a competitive edge that players often crave in games and other forms of play. Completing a puzzle solo has the puzzler competing against the puzzle maker, while there are larger competitive puzzling events for single and group puzzlers to compete against each other.
4. Puzzles are challenging.
Even though the concept of putting puzzles together is pretty straightforward, it offers a challenge nonetheless. They can even be unpredictable – a puzzle that seemed easy looking at the box may actually be more difficult than anticipated. This provides an element of mystery that makes any form of play fun. And once the challenge is solved, it brings the puzzler great satisfaction.
5. Puzzles provide control.
Jigsaw puzzles are a self-regulated activity that allows the puzzler to have complete control over the entirety of the puzzle. Everything from where to work on the puzzle, the puzzle strategy, and when to take breaks is determined by the puzzler. And when it’s time to call it quits for the day, that’s up to the puzzler too.
6. Puzzles keep us in the moment.
Working on a jigsaw puzzle can put the mind into a zen state, much like what one would experience when meditating. The brain is focused on one task – completing the jigsaw puzzle – and allows the puzzler to be present in the moment, letting all the stressors and worries of the day fall by the wayside.
Playing with jigsaw puzzles and the act of putting them together can bring immense joy to many puzzlers, whether through the challenge or a desire to be in the moment. There are a slew of benefits for the brain and mental health and are simply fun to do.