The moments of tranquillity are so rare nowadays. Meanwhile, numerous theories of modern times (as well as ancient ones) claim that the first step to happiness lies in the state of awareness and presence in the present. And here’s a surprising way to practice it – Solitaires! This ancient pastime emerges not just as a pastime. Solitaire as a path to mindful living is often played alone and offers us lessons on solitude, focus, and the art of slow living. Its simplicity is not so simple – judge for yourself.

Step 1: Mindfulness Through Solitaire

Mindfulness. Being completely immersed in the moment, without any extraneous thoughts or feelings, free from judgments or distractions. Solitaire, as any type of puzzle game, with its clear objectives, cultivates this state of mind.

Every move demands careful attention and thoughtful strategy, urging you to concentrate on the task at hand. Card by card, step by step – and here we are! Welcome to the present moment.

“When you are mindful of your intuition, you gain a mind full of inspiration.”

― Donald L. Hicks, Look into the stillness

Step 2: Solitude as a Strength

Our inner strength begins with the ability to endure solitude. In solitude, we learn to hear ourselves better, to rely on our personal needs, to choose what we want right now – and for us. Not our friends or parents. While the quiet sound of our inner world is easily drowned out by the noise of external imaginary success, solitude provides a rare opportunity for introspection and self-reflection. These are critical components of personal development. May we say, that playing Solitaire allows us to learn to be alone – without feeling lonely?

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

― Gautama Buddha, Sayings of Buddha

Step 3: The Reflective Mind

Every game of solitaire is a new puzzle. It forces our minds to think critically and creatively. This thinking process requires one to observe patterns, consider different strategies, and try to plot events several steps ahead. Great problem-solving skills that can be useful beyond the game, right?

“If you want to succeed and leave your competitors behind, you need great plans and even greater strategies.”

― Pooja Agnihotri, 17 Reasons Why Businesses Fail: Unscrew Yourself From Business Failure

Step 4: Emotional Regulation and Patience

Solitaire as a path, is not always about winning.  Just as in life, we don’t always win. And it teaches us to accept defeat gracefully. The calmness required to get through the game, shuffle and start over is akin to the Buddhist practice of “beginner’s mind”. Approach each moment with fresh eyes – a little practice in the form of a few games of solitaire can go a long way here. Such a practice of patience and emotional regulation now and then – and we become a little more adaptable and resilient with each game.

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”

― Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark

Step 5: Digital Detox and Unplugging

Perhaps millions of people around the world still play solitaire during work breaks because of its solitary effect.

Even though you play it on a device, the game’s simple mechanics and the absence of social media notifications help decrease the digital overload in our brains. You could consider it a pretty effective form of digital detox. Do you feel the need to escape the constant barrage of emails and notifications piling up on your phone? You know what to do.

“While our smart devices offer us an easy way to find anything in the world, they can also be a distraction from the things that can’t be found with a Google search.”

― Wendy Speake, The 40-Day Social Media Fast: Exchange Your Online Distractions for Real-Life Devotion

Solitaire as Self-Reflection

Solitaire as a path to a mindful lifestyle,  is not just a game. The little training it offers us is to learn to be in conscious solitude, to focus fully on the task at hand, and to regulate our emotions. In solitude, we find a mirror that reflects the skills needed to live a successful and conscious life. Sometimes the best company we can have is ourselves.