My son bought his nephew a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle for his 6th birthday, before you judge, his nephew loves jigsaw puzzles. The puzzle is filled with images of characters from Marvel comics and the sales message is ‘Impossible Puzzle’. Perhaps, on reflection it may not have been the most well-suited gift for a 6 year-old, and it was stored at the back of the cupboard unopened and unloved. Until this week when his uncle, who had bought the gift rose to the challenge to try completing it. It now lies abandoned on our coffee table unfinished and equally unloved.
As I look at the picture on the lid of the box with its crazy jumble of people all packed into every space, one overlapping the other in a massive 1000 piece people jungle, it made me think about how complicated we can make our life.
Have we made our life a mental jigsaw puzzle that has become too problematic to solve. Is it too full of disparate things and missing pieces that we can no longer see the picture clearly. Do we need to find a simpler jigsaw, strip everything back and find an image that makes us feel at peace. That special place in your life, that makes you feel safe, as if you have come home. Perhaps it is a special room in your house, your garden or somewhere magical you went on holiday, or perhaps it is being with that special person. Someone once said that love was not the person you wanted to be with but the person you did not want to be without. So, include in your picture anyone in your life you do not want to be without.
Once we have our picture, we can hold onto the image of what is important to us. It doesn’t mean we can’t change the picture as we journey through life, but each time keep it simple and keep hold of what really matters, keep it uncomplicated to allow you to see what is important in your life.
Modern life is already overcomplicated. As a young girl I lived in what was at that time a village and there were about 10 shops, my mother would walk to the shops and go to the butchers for meat, the bakers for bread, the fruit and vegetable shop. Our village is now a very large town, there are smaller cities, and we have about 10 supermarkets including a Sainsburys that is the size of a small village and sells everything you could want. I can remember 2 channels on the television (I actually remember no television) and now we have a choice of Sky, Netflix, Amazon, hundreds, and hundreds of programmes to choose from and I still cannot find anything watch! And music, we have gone from a few precious albums of our favourite bands to streaming any music we want at any time. When eating out I can now choose from food from any country in the world.
All this choice is great if we do not lose sight of the simpler pleasures in life and where we find our true happiness and peace of mind.
We do not always have to be rushing around, making sure we savour all life has to offer and creating a bigger and more complicated jigsaw. Sometimes pulling ourselves back to the simpler pleasures, focusing on the things that really matter. Maybe it is time to stop trying to create the world’s most complicated jigsaw in our mind.
When we make our life too complicated we get decision fatigue, when someone asks you to make another choice, even a simple choice, do you want potatoes or chips, it can feel like one decision to many. I can make decisions all day feeling very assertive and know exactly what I want and then someone will ask me a simple question and I just can’t decide, usually it happens at the hairdresser, I get along fine, yes I know the colour and the style and then a question comes that tips me over the edge, and like a petulant child my brain sits down, folds it arms and I just have to let my hairdresser decide. Not to worry, it is only hair, it always grows back.
But making decisions is tiring, and the more complicated we make our life the more decisions we are called on to make. So maybe decision fatigue is the first sign that it is time to strip everything back to a point we can see the picture clearly. What is important in your life? What can you let go off? What do you need to let go off? What is cluttering up your life and not allowing you to see clearly?
If you are unable to take ½ hour every day to be by yourself and watch the flowers grow, meditate, run, practice yoga, read a book, then you are doing something wrong and you have forgotten that in your list of priorities you come top. If you are not top, you are in danger of burning yourself out, and you will have nothing left to give to all the people you love and support.
When we have emotional turbulence in our lives, we create feelings of anxiety and stress, and taking time out to clear and calm our minds, to see clearly what is and is not important to us become ever more important. Take the time to find your mental jigsaw puzzle, where all the pieces fit easily together, like they belong. A solid edge around the outside holding everything that is important to you together. Throw away everything you no longer need and when you have completed your picture you should be able to smile at it, an inward smile of peace and contentment. If not, then re-arrange the pieces until you know that deep down inside this is the picture that belongs to you. All the pieces fitting in all the right places.