Monday, August 14, 2006

ADHD Distractions: Try Mahjong for a Quick Break

(cc) Douglas CooteyDid you think I had blogfaded because I had stopped posting? Well, here's my second post in one day. Ha! That'll teach ya!

Well, I'm not sure what lesson you can learn from that other than I'm suffering from chronic absentmindedism, and that I didn't post last Monday's ADHD Distraction because I was distracted, but let's change the subject.

Having AD/HD means getting bored really quickly. Faster than a speeding bullet quick. Speed of light quick. In fact, I get bored so fast that I'm already bored with tomorrow's distractions before I even discover them. So webcams are passé, Sudoku causes yawns, and I'm desperate to find another constructive distraction that won't suck up my time like a cool raspberry Slurpee on a hot summer day. That's why I'm pleased to introduce today's distraction to you: Mahjong.

Mahjong is a great brain teaser. I fell in love with a version of the game called Shanhai on my Sega Master System back in 1990. The games don't last long. They demand a great deal of concentration, and then they're over. If you can condition yourself to NOT play more than one per break you can use it to refresh your mental state without getting lost in it. Better than going out for a smoke.

The point of the game, if you're not familiar with it, is to clear the stacked tiles by matching pairs until they are all gone. Aside from that, it plays along the same principals as Solitaire, even down to the impossible stack of cards at the end if you're unlucky. I find it more enjoyable than Solitaire and less frustrating because once you master the skill of the game getting stuck is a rare event. If hunter theories are correct then people with AD/HD are perfectly suited to this game since they have to scan their "environment" constantly looking for new pairs. Some games allow you to time yourself and others add varying tile sets to choose from if the oriental ones are difficult for you to look at. Some allow you to play against other players. I do NOT recommend those types because they are addicting and difficult to pull yourself away from.

Although I still have my Sega Master System, I use Mahjong on my Palm Zire instead. I can play a restful game of Mahjong just before falling asleep from the comfort of my bed. Of course, Mahjong is available for Mac, PC, or Gameboy-like portables by multiple companies (Amazon link), but I have found some free games on the web:

Solitaire Mahjongg - a guide to the world of the computer tile-matching solitaire mahjongg games - Fantastic resource of many Mahjong games found online. I can't vouch for all the links within the page, but the site owner hates pop ups and malware as much as I do.

Mahjongg Solitaire - Very quiet. Perfect for work. Requires Flash

Shanghai - Sound effects. Offers a set for kids. Requires Flash

Mahjong - Sound effects. Requires Flash

As usual, limit your time. I find I can finish a game under 10 minutes, especially if I stay away from the complicated tile sets. If you can't watch your time when in the game, get a timer to sit outside the game to remind you that the outside world is still awaiting your attention. Oh, and don't let your boss catch you. He probably won't believe you when you claim you were sharpening your wits for another marathon of mind-tingling paperwork filing.

(I am collecting constructive distractions for this weekly feature. If you have some to suggest please leave them in the comments below. Registration is not necessary. You can even post anonymously.)