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Tangram Puzzles: 15 Valuable Life Lessons You Can Learn From Them

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Set of tangram puzzles
Irfan Khairulaman /

Tangram puzzles are believed to have originated in China in the 18th century. The puzzles consist of two-dimensional puzzles cut from a square and are made up of seven pieces, called tans, that players can manipulate into different shapes. The puzzles have several rules. The pieces shouldn’t overlap, they must lay flat, and every shape must touch the other. 

Tangram puzzles have evolved over the years and become more modernized, and it’s even possible to solve these puzzles online. The diversity of this problem-solving technique has kept the puzzles’ popularity on the rise. 

Anyhow, these are 15 valuable life lessons you can learn from Tangram Puzzles:

1. Strategic Thinking 

Tangram puzzles are made of seven shapes, each of varying sizes. Several outlines of different diagrams accompany the puzzles to fill using the seven shapes provided. These puzzles range from easy diagrams to more complex ones, and the more you play, the more complicated the puzzles become. 

The more complex outlines can’t be solved straightforwardly; you must contort, rotate and plan your shapes to fit into the outline. The first valuable life lesson you can learn from solving Tangram puzzles is that, to solve a hurdle, one needs to first think of a strategy or have a rough idea of how to get past it before taking action. 

2. Persistence Is Key

Tangram puzzles look simple until you begin problem-solving, and that’s where you meet hurdles; shapes refusing to conform, and the puzzle outlines start looking impossible to solve. 

The lesson here is that you will experience failure, but what distinguishes success stories is the level of persistence and perseverance. So a puzzle refuses to conform to an outline? Dismantle it and go back to the drawing board; it’s not hard to start over. Persist until you get it right.

3. Math Isn’t That Complicated

Tangrams are mostly used in school to step up to more complex math problems, such as geometry, area calculations, and theorems such as the Pythagoras theorem. The puzzles are usually done at the beginning stages, like elementary school, and they help children create a great relationship with problem-solving, which essentially math is. 

Growing up solving problems strategically helps one develop a positive attitude, especially when solving more complex problems, like in Advanced Mathematics. 

4. Have The Ability To Think Bigger Than What Meets The Eye

Tangram puzzles are made from one big square. When you take the first glance at the pieces, you don’t see much that can come from them. But once you start solving the outlines, your eyes open up to new possibilities. This is a valuable lesson that we can learn from Tangram puzzles. 

There is a world of opportunities out there, and imagination is the first step in conceptualizing your goals.  

5. The Best Way To Remaining Relevant Is To Evolve

Tangram puzzle is a fanciful yet unique game but what has made it relevant to date is that its purpose has evolved to more areas, including the educational sector, not only for kids but for adult students as well. It’s important to keep relevant to avoid being phased out. 

6. Always Have A Plan And Trust The Process

We have already determined that you need to be a strategic thinker to solve the Tangram puzzle. Planning saves you from time wastage and burnout. A well-thought-out plan ensures that you get a good outcome. The life lesson here is that you can’t walk through life with no plan. 

Trust The Process

7. Discipline

The Tangram Puzzle isn’t a freestyle game. It has rules that you have to stick to, and messing up the rules means creating your own game. Sometimes, you may be tempted to take shortcuts like cutting up the puzzles to fit your shape, but the discipline to remain vigilant and stick to the outline is what makes players successful. 

You will find places to freestyle, but you will also find rules and norms to follow in other areas. You will need the discipline to know when to follow stipulated rules to not get yourself into trouble. 

8. An Air Of Mystery

The puzzle has mostly remained relevant because of the air of mystery around its origin. According to Wikipedia, Samuel Lloyd created his own history of the puzzle in The Eighth Book of Tan; other stories claim that the puzzle is of Greek or Chinese origin and so forth. Historians are still obsessed with the game’s origin. The puzzle’s mystery reminds us to keep people intrigued. 

9. Be Ready To Redefine Your Strategy.

No matter how closely we strategize, some plans will work out, and others won’t. It’s okay to re-strategize. When solving the Tangram puzzle, you may find that your strategy isn’t practical. You don’t need to figure everything out at once. You may need to tweak a strategy here and there to get it right. 

10. There Are Several Ways Of Solving Problems

There are countless tangram combinations. The fact that there are so many outlines stemming from cutouts from one square means numerous solutions to problems. Explore different solutions to problems, and you may just be surprised by the outcome. 

Even the same strategy can bring about different results. A great example of this would be the tangram paradox, where two monks seem similar, except that one has a foot and the other doesn’t. Expect the unexpected, variables change, and so do outcomes; prepare for all kinds of outcomes.

11. You Can’t Fix Anything Passively

Fixing tangram puzzles involves twisting and turning shapes, and moving them in different directions; all these require using your brain and hands. This teaches us that we can’t just wish things away, that we have to get our hands dirty and work our way through issues. 

The puzzle also encourages experimenting on different problem-solving mechanisms. Tangrams are very hands-on and require one to both be physically and mentally present to solve them. 

12. Consulting Isn’t A Weakness

It’s important to complete a goal independently, but solving a Tangram puzzle can also be a group effort, especially with kids involved. Sometimes a task requires a team’s effort to successfully complete, and there is no shame in consulting and asking for direction when you hit a snug.

The puzzles can get complicated, and you may need a fresh outlook to solve the outlines. Solving the puzzles teaches us to learn to ask for help when things aren’t working out. 

13. Seek A Multi-Directional Approach To Life’s Challenges

We have discussed how solving tangrams requires different strategies. To identify these strategies, one has to have a holistic approach to solving the puzzle. 

Players need to look in every direction to ensure the puzzle pieces fit the right way. This is a life lesson we can carry that instead of looking at a challenge one way, it’s important to find the root cause and secondary effects such that we aren’t stopping small fires and forgetting the root cause. 

14. Learn To Take Risks

We know that there are different approaches to solving the tangram puzzles. Making stringent plans with no room for adjustments makes us rigid and unfriendly to changes. Why not take risks sometime? Play life by ear and surprise yourself with the outcome in return. 

Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

Risk-taking also prevents us from wallowing when we fall short of our goals. It allows for a short recovery period for grieving losses, especially when we fail, and failure is a part of life. 

15. It’s Just A Game; Enjoy The Ride

The tangram puzzle is a game, after all, and games are meant to be fun. The problem-solving process shouldn’t be a chore, especially because we have introduced the puzzles to kids of young ages, and we need to keep them engaged and interested even as they develop. 

Taking life too seriously brings up issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, and other conditions related to stress. It’s paramount that we enjoy life’s processes even as we go through its motions. So take a break sometimes, relax and refrain from overthinking and working yourself up to stress. 

Final Thoughts

Tangram Puzzles are a great addition to family game time because studies show that the puzzles encompass logical thinking and creative thinking. Connecting what we see in our imagination and the relationship between the different shapes is an excellent way to boost visual-spatial ways. These life lessons are excellent reasons why you should find and start on your puzzle.

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.