Brain Teasers

I am addicted to puzzles. I like to challenge my brain. I spend my whole weekend sometimes doing Sudoku puzzles or word searches. Most of my friends know this about me and will get me puzzle books for my birthday or for holidays. I bring them with me so I have something to do during down time at school. I also love wooden and metal puzzles, the kind where you have to take something apart or separate it. I also like those peg jumping games they leave on the table at certain restaurants; I never mind if the kitchen is slow or the server is busy.Digital games are also awesome, although I tend to only get the free ones (such is the life of a grad student). I even have a space in my apartment set up so that I can do jigsaw puzzles. It doesn’t matter how many pieces it has or what the picture looks like;I am not picky. I am always working on something. I also like playing things like chess, scrabble, or checkers with friends. It combines two things I enjoy: spending time with people I care about and using my brain. I am not the best chess player; I’ve been told more than once that I lack a certain cut-throat instinct that sometimes draws games out or means I end up losing some of my pieces. But I like it. I like trying to anticipate my opponent’s moves and the difficult dance that the various pieces make across the board. It is always an interesting experience.

I’ve heard that these types of things can prevent Alzheimer’s disease and keep you sharp long into your old age. I don’t know about all that, but it is fun. I find that it keeps me from getting lost in my own head, from worrying about the future or something else equally unproductive. Sometimes I’ll go to sleep and wake up with the answer to something that’s been difficult to come by. It’s fun to think that a part of my brain is still working on it while I am asleep.

I think it’s why I got into philosophy, honestly—because it is one of the few subjects where you are constantly thinking and challenging ideas, working though some of the great questions of the universe. It’s a lot of fun. You can discuss these deep topics and come up with your own conclusions. There are so many bright minds in the field, going back ages and ages—literally—that you will never be without something to read or learn about. There will always be a book or a paper written about what you’re looking for, on any side of an argument you can think of. You can really immerse yours in all kinds of debates and theories. And one of the things that I love most about studying philosophy is that it teaches you to look at every side of a situation to find the best solution or the logical conclusion. If that’s not the most practical and marketable skill out there, I don’t know what is!