Right now, you’re probably in one of two groups:
Group A: Loves crossword puzzles and is currently looking to see how they’re getting smarter with the hobby.
Group B: Doesn’t do crosswords yet, but is considering taking it up as a hobby if the benefits are good enough.
You’re in luck: Doing crossword puzzles does help you with a number of different things, and when compared against other “brain games” (such as sudoku), it stacks up pretty well. (All brain games help different skills, but crossword puzzles improve quite a few areas of your life.)
Read on to learn how you’re getting better as a person - or how you could potentially be getting better!
Skill #1 - Vocabulary
Of course, when you’re trying to find obscure words and connect them with other obscure words, you’re going to get a firm grasp on words you might never use in your everyday life.
There’s more to it than that, though. When you’re doing this thinking between words, you’ll be considering all of the words that don’t fit, too. This action is enough for your vocabulary to improve - when you’re reaching for a word in a sentence, your subconscious will automatically pick the one that’s most apt.
This benefit is exclusive to word-based brain teasers, and more specifically, crossword puzzles and scrabble.
Skill #2 - Critical thinking
You’re ultimately trying to solve each clue with a word - but before you do that, you’re thinking about the clue, trying to decipher what type of word might be relevant for the space.
Sometimes clues are difficult; sometimes they’re not. What’s important is that you’re giving the problem-solving department of your brain a necessary workout. If you’re staying sharp mentally, your decisions and reactions in your everyday life will improve.
Skill #3 - Patience
A crossword puzzle is one of those things where no matter how good you are, you’ll still get stumped on certain clues/words and have to work through them with patience. Even the old-timers who have been doing crosswords their whole lives have these moments.
The crossword puzzle will test your patience - if you’re someone who can practice patience and power through the harder clues, you’ll be more patient in every other area of your life, too.
Skill #4 - Focus
You have to be in a certain mindset to complete a crossword puzzle. You can’t be distracted, multitasking, or anything of that nature. You might be able to be eating, listening to music, or sipping a coffee... but your main activity is the crossword puzzle and the clues on the page.
In 2015, it’s rare to have activities that require this level of focus. For example, even if you’re browsing a news-related website to try and do something productive, you’re still prompted to click between articles on a whim. Crosswords aren’t like that, and by practicing your focus every day, you’ll be able to call that level of focus to attention whenever you need it in your everyday life.
Skill #5 - Confidence
Finally, we have possibly the most useful attribute you get from completing something - confidence.
It feel great to finish off a crossword puzzle, especially if you were having trouble with it. Eventually, as you get better and better at playing, the confidence you have in being able to complete crossword puzzles will skyrocket.
That will translate into more confidence in all areas of your life - as humans, we derive our “macho” from what we’re good at. You just have to stick with it, because at first, you’ll likely be struggling - just as you will with anything you’re a beginner at!
All things considered, crossword puzzles are a fantastic way to get smarter and improve yourself as a person overall. Check out our writeup on the best resources for finding free crosswords and to get started (or continue your obsession) right away.