Awhile ago, my family and I spent hours putting together 750-piece puzzles, an activity that had long ago been put aside. I am not sure what sparked the desire to tackle this challenging project, but the insights that came from our attempts to piece together bits of the puzzle were welcomed and timely.
We started by looking at the picture on the box lid so that we could see the total image. We then began to sort out those pieces of the puzzle that formed the outline of the puzzle. Our reasoning was that it was easier to start with some framework to which we would add the remaining pieces of the puzzle. Putting together the puzzle was frustrating at times because try as we may, we could not find the pieces that were meant to interlock. Many pieces were shaped alike and looked as though they might fit, but didn’t, and others did not appear to be the right parts, but they were.
Many long hours passed and emotions of frustration, accomplishment, and optimism were repeated until the puzzle was completed. At times, it was tempting to put the puzzle away and simply give up, declaring it a waste of time to continue because it was difficult and frustrating.
One of the first insights that I acquired was that life is made up of numerous parts, like pieces of the puzzle. Often I looked at my life and wondered when the next piece of my life’s puzzle would make its appearance. I would soon be rewarded with the sense of satisfaction and understanding, only to find myself stalled again at a later date. As when putting together the puzzle, I would find myself caught in the spin cycle of frustration-accomplishment-optimism.
During this puzzle time, I received the gift of many insights, which I wish to share with you.
- Know the picture that you are putting together before sorting the pieces. (Who am I? Where am I going? What will I be? What will it look and feel like?)
- Create the framework for your life by sorting out all the parts with the straight edges that give some form and structure to your dreams, your desired picture.
- Sort the puzzle pieces so that you will have a more organized and less frustrating approach to joining the pieces properly.
- When successful tactics seem to fail, walk away briefly-but not permanently-and when you come back, do so with a more optimistic attitude. Miraculously the elusive piece seems to appear right away.
- Keep referring back to the image that you will become to identify landmarks and to see larger sections that will give you an idea of the smaller pieces needed.
- Realize that the puzzle is created to be challenging and entertaining, but also to bring with it a sense of accomplishment upon its completion.
Life truly is a puzzle and sometimes we may go for a long time feeling as though many pieces are missing. A truly happy and successful person is one who will not give up simply because it is not easy to piece together the myriad of shapes, sizes, and array of experiences in our lives.
“I patiently put the puzzle of my life together. If the pieces don’t fit in the section where I am now, I will put them down until I am at the point where they do fit.”
Have a puzzle-seeking week!
Mary “Motivator” Rau-Foster