Finding the proper puzzle pieces for better health and life balance

December 19, 2020

Not too long ago, my girlfriend and I did a 500-piece puzzle over a period of a weekend. It was not a remarkable feat, but this is the first puzzle that I have done in decades. I think the last full-sized puzzle I did was the summer between 8th and 9th grade when I broke my ankle and spent 2 months home with my grandmother. I’m not one to usually sit down for the period of time it takes to do a puzzle and be comfortable. I prefer to move around and be active when I am able. However, this one I really got into and as I was doing it, I began to think of some things about life that I wanted to share with you.

If you are like me living with a health condition, or if you have any other situation in life where you are trying to figure out how to either improve your health or figure out a difficult challenge or situation you are working through, starting a business or a family, etc., it often takes a lot of different puzzle pieces to come together to make things work well. For example, I am almost done with my second book and thousands of little pieces have to come together to make it happen, which requires a ton of hard work and patience.

This is some of what went through my mind as I was trying to figure out which puzzle piece went where, in the actual puzzle. There were moments when every single piece we picked up fit somewhere immediately and we were on a roll putting in piece after piece; and then there were some pieces that totally stumped us. There were moments we had to walk away because it was so challenging and nothing seemed to fit. One evening I walked away and when I came back the next morning, I looked at the exact same pieces and saw where they went as soon as I touched them. I just needed a fresh mind and different perspective. The pieces were staring right at me the night before. I just couldn’t figure out where they went. My brain was tired, so each random piece seemed to blend together as one.

Then there were certain puzzle pieces that I had in my hand and I knew that they went in a certain spot, but they just wouldn’t fit, until I turned them a slightly different way. I then thought to myself what I found to be the biggest lesson…it is not always the puzzle pieces that we’re looking for; it’s changing the way we look at the puzzle pieces we already have to make things work out.

It often takes a lot of pieces to be successful at something in life, but sometimes we think we need more pieces or different pieces, and sometimes we do, rather than using the existing pieces when we can’t seem to make things work. Something we could instead consider doing is taking the puzzle pieces that we currently have and looking at them differently, seeing how the existing ones can fit, versus trying to find new ones or more pieces.

As a practical example, 20 years ago I developed a debilitating, life changing health condition called dystonia. I was in severe pain unlike anything I knew existed. My muscles were also spasming and contracting involuntarily out of control (see below). They still do all of this, but not so intensely. To improve upon my situation, I had to find the right puzzle pieces and then learn to put them together so that they were of most benefit to me. I had all the tools I needed. It just took me about 6 years to figure it all out, so I needed to be patient to make them fit properly.

I took the same approach when I had to lose 150 pounds that I gained due to severe chronic pain and a terrible, sedentary lifestyle. I had to find the right pieces to lose weight most effectively, which I did in less than a year (pictures below).

We often need to do a lot of trial and error in life, with the ultimate goal being trial and success, which is an ongoing, lifelong practice. It would be helpful for all of us to embrace this reality so we can remain in a more peaceful state of mind by understanding that life is always in flux with new highs and lows every day. When we embrace this reality, it is easier for us to not live on an emotional roller coaster when things don’t go as planned. This helps keep our stress levels lower.

We often need to do a lot of trial and error in life, with the ultimate goal being trial and success, which is an ongoing, lifelong practice Click To Tweet

This all being said, I think all of us have most of the puzzle pieces we need at our disposal right now to be or do anything in life. We just might need to look at them a little bit differently and put them together a little bit differently in order to make them fit and work in our favor. Search within yourself for answers to your challenges. Most of us know what we need to do to feel better and do better with most things in our lives. It is more a matter of being dedicated to putting pieces together, rather than looking for more and more pieces, and not giving up until the puzzle is complete.










Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021). He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers NetworkThe MightyPatient Worthy, and The Wellness Universe. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.


4 responses to “Finding the proper puzzle pieces for better health and life balance”

  1. Helen says:

    Wow, those snow pieces can’t have been easy Tom ! I purchased one of those big fold away puzzle boards a few years ago but since getting dystonia it hasn’t seen the light of day . You’ve inspired me to get it out again and try and find a comfortable position ( or even move around ) to finish the half done puzzle inside .!
    Wishing you , your girlfriend and family a peaceful Christmas, with gratitude for all the information you share and support you give .

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Thank so much for all your kind words, Helen! The snow and sky in that puzzle were really tough, but slow and steady with good teamwork got us through. The Christmas tree was actually the trickiest part. I’m excited that this blog motivated you get your puzzle out! I hope you will send me pictures. What you mentioned about being comfortable also crossed my mind. At first it wasn’t and then when I found the right chair in the right position, it was pretty good… and rest breaks also helped. Have fun with the puzzle and Merry Christmas!

  2. Tammy Thomison says:

    Good afternoon Tom, I always enjoy receiving and reading your emails. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. Many things you’ve said has definitely helped me.
    I was wondering if you have heard of and maybe even tried the *Electronic Acupuncture Pens *; I have looked them up but still a bit nervous about trying it. My Neurologist said she hadn’t heard of, and I would like an honest opinion if it might help with my Cervical Dystonia.
    Thank You for your help. Merry Christmas

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Hi Tammy. I am very pleased to hear that you enjoy my writings. Thank you! I have never tried an acupuncture pen, but I used to see an acupuncturist on a regular basis. IF you try it, please let me know what you think of it. Thanks!

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