Puzzles vs Problems

Noodling around on this lazy Sunday morning and I came across something I’d recorded on my phone. Why would I be recording on my phone, you ask? Okay, maybe you didn’t, but here’s why.

When I drive to LA, I often listen to podcasts or books to pass the time. I mean, let’s face it..in the 40+ years I’ve been up and down I-5 gazillions of times with most of the drive a snoozer…and as soon as I say that…I get images of the beauty of California even in its less desirable locations…but okay…that’s another post.

Anyway, when I’m driving and listening, I often hear a nugget or idea that I don’t want to forget and the downside of listening to something versus reading (while driving 🤪) is that you can’t easily highlight, take notes, add a post it, etc. Especially while driving!

So how do I solve that problem? I hit “record” on my phone and take a verbal note. And then I promptly forget that it’s there until one day when I’m randomly scrolling around or I hear something else weeks or months later that I want to record and see these notes listed as “I-5 S” which is how my phone labels my recorded notes taken while driving down I-5. Since the label is cryptic, I have no idea what this note is about and most of the time I just move on past and record a new note…to also forget.

But…When life and I slow down and I decide to stop and take a listen…my memory is jogged and sometimes…I actually find an interesting nugget! And I have a bunch of these “I-5” notes because it’s a frequent, long, boring drive!

I digress. So today, I was sitting on the beach listening to a book that Glen has asked me to read. There was a thought I wanted to remember so I opened my phone to record a note. Per usual, I got distracted by all those I-5 notes, started listening to them and promptly forgot the thought I had wanted to record from the book. Maybe I’ll remember later?

So what did I find on my phone today? A few nuggets about a switch in how to think about problems. First, I’ll admit that I’m not a fan problems. I mean, do people really like problems? I think that some do. Glen, for example, loves a good problem and is a master of breaking it down into chunks and solving it in a systematic, thoughtful, logical way. Whereas I’m all emotion and reaction and WAAAAHHH!!! (Hey Allison – I know you’re relating to this!)

The nugget in this podcast or book I was listening to was about switching to thinking of a problem as a puzzle. I mean, who doesn’t love to play with a puzzle? And the author (sorry-i can’t credit the author because I didn’t record it in my notes) offered a symbolic way of thinking about problem solving.


Simple, right? State the problem, move forward to the solution and voila!! Problem solved. Whoever came up with that symbolism is whacko! Right? I mean that’s WAY simplistic. Are there some solutions that obvious and easy? Sure. Like should I have a second cup of coffee? Duh. Should I wear these black sandals or those? Not as easy 🤪 What should I have for dinner? This one can be a challenge for me, but not for Glen these days. (That’s another post.) But are all or even most problems that easy? No. At least not for me.

Here’s my symbol:


That last !? is self-doubt, but that’s another post! And I’m going to try this “puzzle” approach to problem solving…stay tuned…

Not a bad way place to do some noodling….

Published by gat2jdt2

60 something retirees (or semi-retirees) learning to live differently

2 thoughts on “Puzzles vs Problems

  1. I love the idea of looking at a problem as a puzzle. Most things we don’t like can be reframed into a perspective we can handle/like/ relate to. Thank you for sharing this I-5 note. ❤️❤️


  2. I saved your latest blog until I arrived home. Love it! I react to problems just like you, emotional and not proactive, especially at first. John is a master problem solver. He and Glen would make a great team. And it is because he sees it as an opportunity for problem solving. We could learn something from our mates after all. 😆 The beach looks lovely. I am sure that you are having a great time in Hawaii!


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