PT Puzzle: Shape Shifters
Impossible problem? Depends how you look at it
By Katherine Schreiber published March 13, 2012 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
How can we get ourselves out of sticky situations? To find solutions, we need to concentrate, recall relevant information, recontextualize ideas, and map out plans, says neuroscientist Richard Restak. Kickstart your creative thinking by exercising each ability. —Katherine Schreiber
Here are three puzzles that tempt you to focus on the wrong thing. If you focus on which matchsticks to move, the puzzles are hard to solve. Try focusing instead on which matchsticks to leave alone.
Stuck? Puzzle designer Scott Kim says it's not cheating to jump straight to the solution. "Taking a peek at the answer," Kim explains, "gives you an opportunity to figure out how you would have gotten to it." You can piece together the logic and examine where you went wrong. "The goal here isn't necessarily to come up with the right answer," adds Kim. "It's more about diagnosing your reasoning and learning from your mistakes"—whether you're moving mental matchsticks or troubleshooting a problem at work.