Missing Tile Syndrome — Is It Hiding Your Happiness?
Mosaic art has a way of creeping into our language. Used as a metaphor, it can describe how we are inspired, join together with others, and even view the world. “Life is a mosaic,” as we’ve mentioned here on our blog — and there are plenty of literary quotes and songs to back that particular idea up.
This week, we’re thinking about a compelling new idea. “Missing Tile Syndrome” describes a typical human struggle: allowing our narrow focus to dictate our happiness.
It’s Not Just About Tiles
The term, first described by author Dennis Prager in his book Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual, goes deeper than you might expect. Indeed, as Prager suggests, it can affect your entire outlook on life.
So, how does Missing Tile Syndrome prevent the achievement of a happy, fulfilling life? Well, picture this: You’re settling in for an extended stay at a beautiful luxury spa resort. All is well as you surrender yourself to Holiday Mode. Fresh from a dip in the lagoon pool, you lean back in your comfortable lounge chair, sigh with happiness, and take a sip from your perfectly prepared beverage. Smiling, you rest your eyes on the stunning mosaic wall art nearby.
We’d like to think that it looks a little like this image.
It’s beautiful, it’s breathtaking, it’s…and then you spot it. There’s a missing mosaic tile. Just one, at the corner.
Your brow furrows. Your drink tastes stale. You continue to stare at the missing tile. In all this perfection, you think — at a five-star resort — there’s this huge gaping hole. How can you enjoy your vacation now?
As Prager points out — there’s no huge gaping hole. And your trip isn’t ruined. However, your focus on the missing tile has taken away your ability to see the big picture. In this case, your visit to a paradisiacal spot is overshadowed by your attention to this one, tiny, absent piece. Instead of enjoying what you have, you focus on the deficiencies.
Are We All Pessimists?
This counterproductive outlook may be hardwired into us. Some authors have suggested that the ability to notice slight differences — like that missing tile — may be a remnant of ancient times. Failure to notice a bent twig or a new footprint on the trail might have meant life or death. Pessimism, they say, may have created survivors.
Always focusing on what’s missing in our lives, says Dennis Prager, can create constant dissatisfaction. “Can we decide to be satisfied with what we have?” he asks. “A poor man who can make himself satisfied with his portion will be happier than a wealthy man who does not allow himself to be satisfied.”
It’s a pattern of thought that can be difficult to break. If you feel that you’ve been engaging in a bit too much reflection on the “missing tiles” in your own life, here’s how to change up your thinking.
Taking the time to appreciate all the positives in your life, and what you already possess is a great place to start. Gratitude — frequent, focused reflection on what you have in the present — is at the heart of many meditations and prayers.
When we allow the positives to come to the forefront, our feelings of inadequacy and a sense of missing out recede.
Fix It or Accept It
Unlike a missing tile piece, it can be harder to fill a feeling of emptiness. If your particular missing tile is an actual goal or object, it’s time to assess it — practically.
Is it attainable? Can you reach it? Can you buy it or experience it? If it’s simply not realistic, let it go. Remind yourself to enjoy what’s already present in your life!
Sometimes the missing tile becomes obvious as we compare ourselves to others. Going back to our resort vacation scenario: Maybe your friend in the neighboring cabana has a similar mosaic with no imperfections.
Feeling as if we’re in a competition is a quick way to stoke our green-eyed, self-critical monster.
Think Before Complaining
“We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain,” comments Prager, “But it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy.”
The act of verbalizing your list of unfulfilled “wants” is powerful. Giving them air and emotional weight is a sure way to keep them around for a long time.
A better idea? Verbalize the positives in your life. Letting them live and breathe and flourish makes them a source of contentment — day in and day out.
Ready to bring a touch of joy and gratitude into your own home? Our mosaic art designs are a sure way to enhance any room, garden, or pool. With an unparalleled range of choices and lifetime warranty, they’ll never expose you to Missing Tile Syndrome!