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Jigsaw puzzles are the quickest escape from our busy lives. That’s why you’re finding out why you seem to be on the hook for it.

You’re a jigsaw puzzle addict if you have experience these following symptoms:

  1. You’re having a sense of accomplishment
  2. You’re feeling the sense of quietness, calm, and peace
  3. You’re into a one specific end goal
  4. You’re in control
  5. You’re experiencing increase bond and connection to yourself and with other Puzzlers

You pick and match, then you’re done.

That’s also mere entire reason as to why it’s addicting!

The task is simple yet challenging. Frustrating yet satisfying.

The mixture of positive and negative emotions are well-blended that soothes our tastes and keep coming back for more.

It’s like a party drug that give euphoria right after finishing one.

But why is that?

Why is jigsaw puzzle addicting?

A jigsaw puzzle is addicting because of a hormone called dopamine. Dopamine is a motivation-driven reward feeling when playing jigsaw puzzles which is the completion of the puzzle itself.

Dopamine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter that is released into the body to give a pleasurable sensation that’s why it’s also known as the “feel-good” hormone.

This “feel-good” hormone is released when we have accomplished a task completely, or when we anticipate a reward for something we’ve done.

You see, if we play jigsaw puzzles for hours or even days, we sacrifice our time and efforts to the game itself. We use our thinking skills to figure out how we could match every piece of it to each other.

In short, we are investing a piece of ourselves on jigsaw puzzling.

Having said that, when we are invested in something or even in someone in our lives, one way or the other, we expect or at least anticipate a positive result towards that thing or person, right?

What I mean is, we look forward for the growth of the tree after planting a seed. We needed to see an outcome, whether it is positive or negative.

Fortunately, in jigsaw puzzling, since it is a predictable type of game, we often experience positive results that’s why we keep on wanting more.

But why is that?

Here are the 5 reasons why you’re a jigsaw puzzle addict:

1. Sense of accomplishment

The feeling of an accomplished task is an incomparable pleasure we often experience especially if we’re the ones who have put an effort into it.

Have you remembered the feeling when you got your first award in school? What about the feeling you’ve had we you had passed your licensure examination? Or the feeling you got when you ended up with someone you have been liking for the longest time? How about the promotion you got in your work after working your best for the past 20 years?

All of those accomplishments makes you feel happy, right?

Happy in a sense that all your hard work pays off at last!

At last, your sacrifices, your tears, your frustrations, your disappointments all have powerful meanings now.

Sounds cliche, huh?

What I’m trying to say is that this sense of accomplishments we have in completing a jigsaw puzzle gives us more motivation to go for an extra mile for we know first-hand to ourselves that we can.

We can go further. We can stretch even more. We can.

That’s what jigsaw puzzling has been teaching us all this time.

You see, life won’t be fun and happy if there’re no challenges along the way, right?

If we can finish this and that is the easiest way possible, I don’t think that we’ll go for it once again.

The challenge and frustrations we have beaten definitely makes us proud of ourselves for doing so, you know?

Now, these feelings are not a “made up” type of explanation. These are all backed up by science.

As I mentioned above, dopamine is release when we have completed one.

Dopamine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter that gives a pleasurable feeling of accomplishment after overcoming stress, pain, or challenges.

This dopamine release is healthy because it give balance in our psychological being.

The “feel good” thing we have makes us to engage more on such activity.

It increases our attention span, memory, and even our motivation and learning as well, on the thing that makes as feel good.

When that happens, our body tends to let go of all the negative burdens we kept on carrying for some time because finally we’ve made it to the finish line.

2. Sense of quiet, calm, and peace

While doing a jigsaw puzzle, our mind is in deep focus to match every piece to its right counterpart. That’s the only thing inside our heads, nothing more.

Only serene peace, calm, and quietness are the things we’re experiencing at the time being.

You see, we need to unload excess unnecessary thoughts while playing.

Why is that? Why we automatically doing it when jigsaw puzzling?

Well, the best explanation for that is we’re in the process of learning using our higher-order thinking skills.

This higher-order thinking skills commonly used Bloom’s taxonomy.

Bloom’s taxonomy is a 6-step learning ladder to which it’s divided into two parts:
lower-order thinking and higher-order thinking.

In lower-order thinking skills, it includes our abilities to remember, understand, and apply what we learned. One good example of low-order thinking skills is memorizing our favorite song, understanding its lyrics, and singing it with all our hearts to apply our talents of singing.

Meanwhile, higher-order thinking skills include our abilities to analyze, evaluate, and create. One good example of this is jigsaw puzzling.

In jigsaw puzzling, we are ought to use our abilities to analyze each piece first, then evaluate if it fits correctly to one another, before can create the whole image out of it.

With that, we definitely need to turn some thoughts inside our heads in silence first so we can have enough brainpower in playing jigsaw puzzles.

You see, our brain is capable of distinguishing which tasks need more attention, and which don’t. It’s a complex type of processor if we compare it to a computer processor.

If this memory or thought serves no purpose in this playing jigsaw puzzle, it should be turned into silent mode for the meantime to give more brain space.

I hope you’re getting my point here.

It’s just like turning your phone into silent mode while you’re in an important meeting to give you more focus and remove you from distractions.

Now, since some thoughts are in silent mode, the sense of peace would rush in.

You may want to check out my article on the effects of jigsaw puzzles in patients with ADHD to further understand the concept of silence and focus while playing jigsaw puzzles.

Going back, that’s sense of peace and happiness is because of the release of serotonin.

Did you know that serotonin is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone?

Well, if you say that it’s a neurotransmitter, it’s basically a chemical produced by our nerve cells to communicate or transmit messages to each other, while if you say it’s a hormone, it’s basically involved in maintaining balance in our body.

So how does serotonin maintains balance in our body?

Well, serotonin is known as a happy hormone, and a mood stabilizer because is related to the feeling of satisfaction.

The feeling of satisfaction happens when you have reached the maximum point of fulfillment in whatever you’re doing, such as playing and completing a jigsaw puzzle.

Therefore, aside from our brains are silencing some unnecessary thoughts at the moment to give us more focus, it also gives us a sense of fulfillment that at last, we’re in a stable and quiet state of our being while enjoying our pastime game of jigsaw puzzles.

3. Provides one specific end goal

It’s just direct to the point. A straight forward approach of completing a whole image.

Now, that’s the thing that we really like about jigsaw puzzles, right?

It’s simple – complete the whole image itself.

No complexity is needed. All you have to do is look for the matching pieces and put them together until you’re done.

Unlike in other games, there are various this and that tasks that need to finish before you win.

For me, that kind of game is pretty tiring. I don’t enjoy such task where a lot of things are going on. I feel exhausted and rattled at the same time!

May be that’s because I’m an introvert in the place.

Introversion is a personality type where one is focused on what’s going on inside them rather than on what’s going on outside them —- may it be an activity, in the environment, or exposure to a large crowd of people.

Sometimes, introversion is tagged with shyness but these two are different with each other.

Being a shy person means, you’re afraid to interact with others, while being an introvert means, you open-heartedly choose to be with yourself alone because it drains your energy when you’re with others.

In playing jigsaw puzzle, you can play on it alone or with a small number of friends you have. A very good deal for introverts like me.

So what?

What’s with being an introvert and having a sense of specific end goal in jigsaw puzzling?

Introverts are people who are used to internal stimulation within themselves while jigsaw puzzles are games that can provide inner self connection, as I have mentioned in my previous article Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles.

The characteristics of introverts matched up perfectly in playing jigsaw puzzles!

Jigsaw puzzle goal: completion of one whole image
Introverts goal: a sense of oneness with yourself
Jigsaw puzzle + introverts goal: deep connection with yourself while completing a jigsaw puzzle

Got the connection?

Focused and self-oriented goal are achieve in both ways.

I'm not saying that all people who play jigsaw puzzles are introverts because not all introverts enjoy playing one. I just connected my introversion and my hobby of playing jigsaw puzzles in this part based on my own life experiences.

4. Offers sense of control

Sense of control is the main factor as to why you’re addicted to jigsaw puzzles because it’s your strategy, your time frame, your rules.

It’s all on you. You’re the master of the game. You decide to how long you wanted to play, and on how you will play.

Nobody will dictate whether you’re doing it right or wrong. It’s all on you.

You’re the boss, you’re in control.

This sense of control all boils down to your sense of ownership and authority as an individual.

Sense of ownership is one of the basic human needs to strengthen our sense of responsibility and self-esteem.

To further explain this concept clearly, let me share with you the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Image source:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is commonly discussed in the world of psychology to assess and to know why is a person behaving in a specific manner.

In the picture above, there are 5 steps of human needs that should be met in order as we age.

The first one is all about our physiological needs to where our basic necessities to live and survive such as food, water, and shelter, belong to.

Secondly is our safety needs where our security in terms of our jobs, finances, and education lies. All of these will follow if we have attained the previous one first.

The third is our sense of belongingness. Here, having human relationships such as romantic ones, friends, and family must be met. This happens when we’re secure enough on the first two needs previously mentioned.

Fourth is our self-esteem. We can only feel confident about ourselves if our physical needs and our basic psychological needs are met.

And lastly, self actualization. This last stage of human needs is the most difficult one that only a few have ever attained.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is not a law. It’s just a motivational theory to assess and evaluate how humans behaviour changes depending on which needs are met.

Now that we know these human needs, where does this feeling of sense of control we have while playing jigsaw puzzle fall into?

In my honest and sincere opinion, it falls into the self-esteem part.


That’s because having a sense of control over something means that you’re independently planning and taking things into your own account and responsibilities.

This can only happen if your basic need starting from your physiological aspect, to your safety, to your sense of belongingness are met.

What I am saying is that, how would you be able to have a sense of responsibility, and authority in the first place if you weren’t sustained with right food and nutrients, if you weren’t educated at the very least, if you weren’t been able to be trusted and loved by others, and if you weren’t able to believe in yourself first?

Have you gotten my point? I hope you did.

5. Offers bond of relationship

Jigsaw puzzles offers special bonds to oneself and to others whom you’re playing with.

The sense of connection to others is easily attained in playing one.


It’s by engaging on specific activity and reaching one goal – completion of jigsaw puzzles.

This happens because our body releases a hormone known as oxytocin.

Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone”. This hormone is released by our brain if we engaged in physical contact with others such as touching and hugging.

This mainly functions in relationship building, it also influences our sense of trust, empathy, and love to others we have spent quality time with.

That’s why it’s we have this sense of “good old times” feeling when we used to play jigsaw puzzles with our close friends or loved ones. It brings connection and bond to whoever plays with it.

Well, it’s not only for small groups of jigsaw puzzlers but you can feel sense of special connection and bond to yourself too!

That’s what we call self-love.


Jigsaw puzzles are addicting because of various positive effects we can get out of it.

These positive effects help makes our psychological and mental being healthy for releasing happy hormones and re-wiring of our brain circuits in a different manner.

Here’s a check list for you to re-evaluate yourself and to determine if you’re a jigsaw puzzle addict already.

Have you felt sense of accomplishment after playing jigsaw puzzles?  
Do you feel quiet, calm, and peaceful while playing jigsaw puzzles?  
Do you feel the sense of authority and control while playing jigsaw puzzles?  
Have you felt deep connection or bond within yourself (if you prefer to play alone) or with others (if you play with others)?  
Do you enjoy jigsaw puzzling because it’s not complicated?  

If you got 3 out of 5 in this checklist, then congratulations!

You’re addicted to jigsaw puzzles.

Don’t worry though, it’s fine as long as it doesn’t affect your normal life in a harmful way.

Keep jigsaw puzzling Puzzler! Enjoy and be happy!

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