I have written before about my unfortunate addiction to Sudoku, acquired last summer as I did research for my chapter book Annika Riz, Math Whiz, in which third-grader Annika enters a district-wide Sudoku contest. I felt that I should have the experience of playing Sudoku myself if I was going to write about it convincingly in the book. My sister, Cheryl, herself a math and puzzle whiz, taught me how to play it on my iPad. And then, almost instantly, I became addicted, as I had once been addicted, years ago, to solitaire.
Desperate to break free, I'd delete the free Sudoku app one minute, only to reinstall it the next. I made public vows to give it up only to break those vows hours later. I gave myself Disney princess stickers as a reward for each day spent without playing even one minute of Sudoku. That worked for part of a week.
But now I think I've solved the problem for once and for all - oh, I do think I have!
My addiction is - was! - luckily quite specific. It wasn't to Sudoku generally, but to Sudoku played on my iPad. I was almost ready to give up the iPad altogether to get away from that fatal app. But then I realized yesterday that I could simply do what parents do who don't want their children downloading problematic apps without parental permission: I could restrict access - my OWN access - to the Apple app store.
It was as easy as pie. I had my housemate Julia type in her secret password for the app restriction, a password unknown to me. Now I can't do Sudoku on my iPad ever again. If I should need access to the app store for some legitimate reason, I can always email Julia (who leaves for her sabbatical in Germany tomorrow) to retrieve it, but I'm not going to email her to get it just so that I can sink back into Sudoku addiction.
So what I have I learned from this? Some problems require structural solutions. You can try over and over again to fix yourself, OR you can fix your environment so that how you are isn't a problem any more. (This is a point that self-help guru Barbara Sher develops brilliantly in books such as Wishcraft and Live the Life you Love.)The first strategy required that I use all my strength in constant battles of will power against temptation. The second required, in this case, one minute of researching how to block the app and another minute of asking Julia to type her password onto my iPad to set up the restriction.
Now I have the rest of my life to fill with something other than Sudoku. It's lovely to wonder what it will be.