5 Things We Can Learn From The NY Times Crossword Puzzle

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

Today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” is a little different. It is inspired by a terrific book by Angela Duckworth called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perservance.

In one section of her book, Duckworth talks about a New York Times article titled “How To Solve The New York Times Crossword Puzzle.” The article is written by Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times. If anyone knows how to solve a puzzle, he’s your man. Duckworth takes elements from this article and applies them to our everyday lives. Similar to what I try to do with this 5 things post.

In order to respect Duckworth’s book, I am not going to copy her work. I am simply going quickly highlight a few points she made and sprinkle in a few of my own. Hopefully this will get you to check out Grit: The Power of Passion and Perservance.

5 Things We Can Learn From The New York Times Crossword Puzzle

1. Start With What You Know

Shortz says, “step 1 in solving any crossword is to begin with the answers you’re surest of and build from there.” Duckworth perfectly illustrates how this same approach can help us find our purpose in life.

2. It is Okay to Guess

Finishing a crossword puzzle is not easy. You won’t have all the answers. You may need to guess. Duckworth shows how there will always been a good amount of trial and error as we look for what we are passionate about.

3. Bring an Eraser

Shortz says we can’t be afraid to erase an answer that isn’t working out. We often hear “to try, try again”, but many times in life, we are wise to cut our losses when we are doing something that isn’t meaningful.

4. Look For Clues

The New York Times crossword puzzle is filled with little hints. There are plenty of hints in our lives as well. We just need to start noticing them.

5. Step Away

According to shorts, “If you get stuck on a puzzle, a time-honored technique is to put it aside and return later. Perhaps the brain works subconsciously on problems in the interim. Whatever the case, a fresh look at a tough puzzle almost always brings new answers.” Substitute life for puzzle and the advice still works.