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The Healing Power of Puzzles

An active mind, focused on positive thoughts and images, is a significant key to a long, healthy life. The activities of our brain have a profound impact on our emotions and our physical health. Performing tasks that involve both our linear left brain and our holistic right brain are ideal. Welcome to the world of healing jigsaw puzzles!

Putting together a jigsaw puzzle exercises both the left and right brain simultaneous. The left brain-sequential, symbolic and logical-needs to be balanced with the right brain-random, concrete and intuitive. Jigsaw puzzles also create connections between individual brain cells and the hemisphere of the brain in which they reside. These connections increase our ability to learn.

In addition, several large-scale studies (including the MacArthur Study) found that people who participate in leisure time activities such as puzzling have a better quality of life, longer life expectancy and a decreased incidence of brain illnesses such as dementia, memory loss and Alzheimer's disease (by an amazing third). Successfully finding one or more pieces in a puzzle encourages the production of dopamine, a brain chemical that improves learning and memory.

Puzzles also work to create balance and health on other levels. When we focus on particular images for an extended period of time, this becomes a form of visualization. Visualization is another key to creating positive life experiences of all types. For example, athletes who practice their performances through visualization actually perform better than those who only practice their game physically.

Choosing to focus on uplifting, inspiring images creates a positive state of mind that has the same benefits as meditation: the mind becomes quiet, creativity is increased and emotions are soothed. Puzzles also operate on an even deeper level. Puzzles are a metaphor for life itself. The connections we make between puzzle pieces are like the connections we make to create wholeness in our lives. We know that things that appear to be out of place will eventually "fit" in the big scheme of things. So, relax. Take a break. Put together a beautiful puzzle and reap the benefits in every area of your life.

Kathleen Karlsen, MA is a writer, artist and web designer residing in Bozeman, Montana. To find a selection of beautiful puzzles and to learn more about healing puzzles, please visit - More of Kathleen's writing can be found at - Kathleen's contemporary impressionism artwork including flower paintings, forest paintings and landscape paintings can be found at