I learned how to play Solitaire in 1979. Since the IBM PC was only introduced in 1981, and the iPhone didn't come out until 2007, I played the old-fashioned way--with real cards. Solitaire was one of the first games to be included with the first graphic Windows operating system, Windows 3.1, and is played over almost every platform today.

Everything you do on a regular basis trains your brain in a certain way. The words you use constantly train your brain as well. As it turns out--so is the game of Solitaire. In this article, the game is not used as an analogy for certain decision-making processes, but as an actual tool that helps making better decisions through acquiring two specific skills.

Disclaimer--I assume that you know how to play Solitaire, and will use moves from the game to explain the decision-making skills they develop. If you don't know the game, read on anyway, see how it can help you, and then learn to play the game...

One step back, two steps forward

The goal of the game is to build four blocks of cards of the same color, ordered from Ace to King. Whenever you get a new card, your highest priority is to move it onto those ordered blocks, if possible. Only if not, will you move this card to an appropriate column. Every time you are able to move a card to one of the four ordered blocks, you are making a step forward towards winning the game.

However, every now and then, albeit rarely, you might take a card from the top of one of the four ordered blocks so you can "release" another card and make progress towards the final goal. This move trains your brain that sometimes you must make one step back, just to make two steps forward later. The more you do that, the more comfortable your brain is with this decision-making concept, not only in the game, but in everything.

Don't rush to make a decision, create options

Sometimes you have an opportunity to move a card, but it is not "buying" you anything right now. You have a black five, and in another column you have a red six. There is nothing "hiding" under the red five, so moving it over to the black six will not buy you anything. You can move it anyway (many people will), but what if in the next draw you might find the other red five, and you would prefer to move that one over the black six, to gain access to the cards below it (assuming you are playing the "standard" game where you draw three cards at a time)? The fact that you kept the first red five in place would give you the option to then get the other red five, and uncover a card underneath it.

This move trains your brain to assess the "return on investment" for every move, wait for the last moment when a decision has to be made, and try to build more options for a better decision. Again, once your brain is trained with this discipline--you will use it not only in the game, but in everything.

Your brain doesn't have a dedicated area for decision-making associated with the game Solitaire. The same area in your brain that makes decisions in the game, will make decisions in other areas of life as well. For that reason, exercising those skills through the game would develop them for better decision-making in other aspects of life and business as well.

If this didn't make you go and start playing Solitaire, I don't know what will. Just one word of caution--this game is addictive...

Published on: Jun 6, 2017
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