The Missing Tile Syndrome

1,426,368 Views
Aug 4, 2014

Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wish I were ___"? Adjectives may have included: thinner, taller, smarter, etc. If so, you're like virtually everyone else, and afflicted by "The Missing Tile Syndrome." As Dennis Prager explains, we often focus on the missing tile(s) in our lives, which robs us of happiness. In five minutes, learn how to fix your focus.

Want to be happy? Don’t focus on what’s missing in your life. Focus, instead, on all you have.  

  • Research shows that developing habits of gratitude, being thankful for what we have and are given, leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • Gratitude leads to better physical, psychological and relational heath. In other words, grateful people are happier people.View Source
  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level.View Source
  • Unhappy people, on the other hand, often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

Unhappiness often damages the lives of those around us, while happy people make the world better place.

  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level.View Source
  • Unhappy people, on the other hand, often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • One of the secrets to happiness is gratitude. Research shows that developing habits of gratitude, being thankful for what we have and are given, leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

One of the secrets to happiness is gratitude—being grateful for what we do have rather than focusing on what we don’t have. 

  • Research shows that developing habits of gratitude, being thankful for what we have and are given, leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • Gratitude leads to better physical, psychological and relational heath. In other words, grateful people are happier people.View Source
  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level.View Source
  • Unhappy people, on the other hand, often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

One of America’s core values is that happiness, and the pursuit of it, is essential to a healthy society.

  • The Declaration of Independence famously enshrined the “pursuit of happiness” as a human right. Happiness is an essential component of a free and healthy society that brings dignity to the person pursuing it and benefits humanity at large.View Source
  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level, while unhappy people often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • One of the secrets to happiness is gratitude. Research shows that developing habits of gratitude leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

Happiness is a noble pursuit because it brings dignity to the person pursuing it and benefits humanity at large. 

  • The pursuit of happiness is noble and essential to society because it brings dignity to the person pursuing it and benefits humanity at large.View Source
  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level, while unhappy people often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • One of the secrets to happiness is gratitude. Research shows that developing habits of gratitude leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

Grateful people are happier people. Gratitude leads to better psychological, relational and physical heath.

  • Research shows that developing habits of gratitude, being thankful for what we have and are given, leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • Gratitude leads to better physical, psychological and relational heath. In other words, grateful people are happier people.View Source
  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level.View Source
  • Unhappy people, on the other hand, often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

We are morally obligated to act happy. Why? Happy people make the world a better place, while unhappy people damage others’ lives. 

  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level.View Source
  • Unhappy people, on the other hand, often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • One of the secrets to happiness is gratitude. Research shows that developing habits of gratitude, being thankful for what we have and are given, leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

One of the greatest obstacles to personal happiness is focusing on what’s missing in one’s life. 

  • Research shows that developing habits of gratitude, being thankful for what we have and are given, leads to greater life satisfaction.View Source
  • Gratitude leads to better physical, psychological and relational heath. In other words, grateful people are happier people.View Source
  • Happiness is a moral obligation. Happy people generally make the world a better place on both a micro and macro level.View Source
  • Unhappy people, on the other hand, often damage others’ lives.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on why it is a “moral obligation to act happy.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the “happiness equation.”View Source
  • Related reading: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual – Dennis PragerView Source

I would like you to imagine sitting in a room, looking up at a tiled ceiling.  And you notice that one tile is missing - just one. What would you concentrate your vision on? What would you look at the most? The answer of course, is the missing tile.

Now, that’s fine for ceilings, in fact it’s actually good because we can replace a ceiling’s missing tile and once again have a perfect ceiling. Ceilings, after all, can be perfect.  But this doesn’t apply to life. Most of what is missing in our lives, or what we think is missing, cannot be replaced. Unlike a ceiling, life can never be made perfect. For that reason, concentrating on the missing tiles in your life is a big problem.

Let me give you the example that taught me this great lesson about what I call The Missing Tile Syndrome. 

A bald man once said to me, “You know, Dennis, whenever I walk into a room with people, all I see is hair.  When I heard this I immediately realized in this regard this man sees the world completely differently from how I do. Because I have all my hair, when I walk into a room I don’t even notice hair.  It’s not a missing tile for me.  But for this person, hair is what he sees. This applies, in some way, to everyone.  

When a woman who thinks she has imperfect legs walks into a room, all she sees are perfect legs. Or take the example of the woman who once said to me, “Wherever I go, all I see are pregnanyt women.”  Now how could that be?  The vast majority of women, even those young enough to be pregnant, are not pregnant at any given time.  But that was all she saw because she wanted to get pregnant and wasn’t able to. Her missing tile was not having a child. That’s the way human nature is: we focus on what’s missing in our lives.

The Missing Tile Syndrome is a very big obstacle to happiness. So big, in fact, that it makes happiness almost impossible. There will always be something missing in your life. When you see other people’s kids, you’ll think you see tiles that are missing in your own children. “Gee, why can’t my kids study as hard, or be as polite, or be as bright, or be as good looking, or be as athletic.” The same holds true regarding our spouses, our work, our looks.  The list is endless.

I’ll give one more example; when I was a single and looking to find the “right woman”, I wanted to first identify the most important trait  to look for in my future wife. So after almost every date I would call my best friend, Joseph, and announce, “Joseph, tonight I identified the most important trait in a woman.” And he would always say, “Okay, Dennis, what is it?” and then patiently listen. One night I would tell him that it was intelligence; another night that it was looks; another night, personality; and yet on another night, kindness. One night, as usual, I called him up after an evening out and said, “Joseph, I finally figured out what the most important trait in a woman is.” But this time he didn’t say, “Okay, Dennis, what is it?”  Instead he said,  “Don’t tell me, I’ll tell you!” Perplexed I asked, “How do you know? You don’t even know the woman I went out with.”  “It doesn’t matter,” he said, “Whatever trait tonight’s woman was missing, that’s the one you decided is the most important trait in a woman.”  I could say nothing. He was right. Whatever that night’s date was missing was what I would declare the most important trait in a woman.

I hadn’t yet come up with the term Missing Tile Syndrome, but that is exactly what I was suffering from. That’s the way we play tricks on ourselves and undermine our happiness; by concentrating on the missing tiles every one of us has.  So we really have a simple choice: do we focus on the rest of the ceiling, on all the tiles we do have, or do we focus on the ones we’re missing, To a large extent, the answer to that question will determine how happy you will be.

I’m Dennis Prager.

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