We are natural problem-solvers. We love a challenge and without them we don’t grow and mature fully. Perhaps it is also the case that if we are under-stimulated – if we are not using our intelligence and particularly our problem-solving abilities sufficiently – we suffer.

We are problem-solving creatures. To take this a step further, I have often wondered that if we don’t use our wonderful intelligence (that should really be plural as there are many kinds), it will turn inward and create problems so we have something to occupy us.

It is still not known exactly how we go about solving problems, that is, what’s happening in the brain. But researchers are onto it. For example, is it all down to a Eureka! moment, or is it a more gradual process of testing and probing? However it actually works, the mind needs to be kept active and challenged. Because we are natural problem-solvers success in resolving the challenges we face helps us feel good about ourselves.

But, when this is not happening, if we don’t face challenges we don’t grow and develop to our full potential. It even seems to be (having worked with clients suffering with a range of mental health problems), that when it is under-stimulated the brain can make mischief.

If this is so, creative though the human mind is, the problems it creates tend to be disturbing and even disabling. It would be great if an under-used intellect could set its owner crosswords and Sudoku to keep itself busy, but it doesn’t. Mostly, it comes up with different variations on a theme of ‘something to worry about’.

This poses the question in an ever-simplified and institutionalised  world where increasingly we are not required to make, create or do things that challenge us, how will we fare in emotional and spiritual terms?