Building mental resilience (with puzzles)

I just finished putting together a 500-piece puzzle.

My first puzzle in literally decades.

Well, I guess that’s not true. I’ve solved plenty of life’s puzzles. Just not the kind you buy in the store.

500 pieces was a good call. Any more than that might have been too frustrating to start with. With 500, it was only mildly frustrating. The good kind of frustrating.

The good kind of frustrating?

It’s a fact of life in our current three-dimensional reality: sometimes life is annoying, unsettling, and unpleasant.

Poetical entrepreneur Kamal Ravikant said this: “If something scares me, there’s magic on the other side.”

If that is true, then fear is just sort of a semipermeable membrane to traverse in order to get to the magic.

Traversing fear is a practice. Like with anything, it gets easier the more you do it. The essence of momentum.

Frustration is related to fear, because it’s an aversion to some kind of set-back. Which means frustration comes from fear that I am not in control, or that I can’t have things my way, or at my pace.

I became frustrated a few times working on the puzzle. Maybe more than a few. Maybe a dozen times.

Sometimes, I wondered why I was even doing it.

Just like with fear, building momentum for a high frustration tolerance is a practice. The more I worked on the puzzle, the longer my sessions became. At first, I felt agitated after only a few minutes, and took breaks. Later, I didn’t get irritated until after maybe a half hour or more. And even when irked, I felt too persistent to take a break so easily.

What I’m describing is true of many factors of being human. Like building physical muscles. Starting small, slowly building resilience, resting, then going further. Repeat. Again and again. Stop for too long, and muscles atrophy.

Building emotional and mental resilience is the same. Starting small, like with a 500-piece puzzle. Working through the frustration. Working through the sense of, “what’s the point?”

I used to have some three-lb. weights. At first, I wondered, “what’s the point?” Then, I used them every morning for six months before even getting out of bed, and somehow ended up in the best shape of my life.

That puzzle was like some 3-lb. weights for my brain. And in both cases, there was indeed magic on the other side. Satisfaction. And knowing that small starts often lead to new, awesome frontiers.

You, reader, are triumphantly awesome.

And I want to share my life work with you.
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