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Solving mysteries, escaping rooms, working a case file, and solving puzzles all require thinking outside of the box. There is nothing like the feeling that washes over you when you have solved a case and caught the bad guy, escaped a room with just seconds to spare, or put the last piece in to finish a puzzle. Those amazing "AHA' moments create dopamine.

Benefits of dopamine include:

  • Positive mood

  • Sharper concentration

  • Improved memory

  • Heightened social skills

The brain likes when we solve puzzles and reinforces this activity with an influx of dopamine that literally makes you a sharper learner. The brain craves more influx of dopamine, motivating you to find more and more difficult challenges and puzzles to solve! This is why people often find themselves itching to find the next best escape adventure. 


Here is some advice for solving puzzles:

Take a moment to just visually observe and create a plan.
There isn’t simply one strategy that is going to work all the time. Before you dive into a puzzle, it’s always a good idea to envision the bigger picture of the puzzle. Instead of jumping into the puzzle, create a plan and try to identify a good strategy on how to approach the puzzle in a way that will lead to a quick solution. Without a plan, chances for success are very slim.


Try not to over-analyze it.
When you are on a timed mission, the ticking clock can add a lot of pressure. Take a deep breath and know that when you rush you can you can miss the details. When you panic, you over think it.  Don’t over think it! While some puzzles are trickier than others, they all have one thing in common- they have a solution. Try to think outside of the box and develop alternative ways of solving the problem rather than getting overwhelmed and panicking.

Look for Patterns, see what is there, and think about what is not there.

Rather than look for a complicated series of steps, try looking for a pattern to follow. By recognizing the pattern within the puzzle, it will help you get one step closer to reaching a solution. By analyzing the pattern and different aspect of the puzzle, you begin to see the manner in which the puzzle pieces interact.

Try not to get frustrated.
If you know your answer and that particular answer doesn't work - try different ways to use that answer. Like, if your answer is 1234 and your lock is a word lock... try decoding. A usually equals 1 or you should see something that tells you 1=n and that is a hint . Most escape rooms, conundrum boxes, and puzzle hunts will lead you a hint that helps with a decoding process.

Although a puzzle may be difficult, it has a solution and it is up to you to solve it. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking the puzzle is flawed. Take your time, look at the big picture, follow the patterns, and consider the them of the room or puzzle box. Think about the story line  as often that helps.

While thinking of ways to solve the puzzle, try checking answers you feel might be too obvious, you never know. Check it and if it doesn't work then move on.

Have fun and utilize your teammates. Different people have different experiences and puzzle rooms, hunts, boxes, and so on, are usually designed so that people have to work together. Enjoy the process.

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