An explorer in a cardboard land: emotion, memory, and the embodied experience of doing jigsaw puzzles

Angela Cora Garcia, Bentley University


The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how playing a game or engaging in a leisure activity provides the participant with an experience which integrates physical, mental, and emotional elements. I use an autoethnographic approach to study the process of completing jigsaw puzzles. The main focal point of the paper is the connection between engagement in a physical activity (completing a puzzle) and how the mind works and where it goes during the performance of that activity. The goal of the paper is to illustrate the connections between action and thought, and to show how one of the benefits, pleasures or rewards of engagement in leisure activities is the way these activities facilitate the wandering of our minds toward productive thoughts, images, insights, memories, and emotions. These findings may aid our understanding of the nature and appeal of playing games or participating in various types of leisure activities.