The unfinished puzzle

In my family, jigsaw puzzles were a holiday tradition of sorts. We’d set up a special card table in the living room and work a little each day until the pieces found their ways to the right spots.

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but one of our favorite puzzles (a 1000 count version of an autumn forest scene) was missing several pieces. We’d go into it, fully knowing that 99.7 percent of the pieces were there. And when we were done (well, as done as you can get with missing pieces) we’d all admire it until it went back in the box to be replaced on the table with another one.

I was reminded of this while watching a video today. The speaker was talking about how, rather than focusing on the completed parts of our lives–the parts that are going well–we often focus on the unfinished elements: The ideal job that we just missed landing, or the partner we can’t find, or an income that’s short of what we need.

The unfinished elements of our lives can certainly seem huge. And focusing our thinking around them can become a serious downer. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be alert to finding the new job, or partner, or increasing our income. Those plans are important!

But while looking, we might be best helped by focusing on the parts of our lives that are working and leverage them–the jigsaw puzzles pieces at play, if you will.

A friend of mine put it this way. “I may not have the perfect job or car or living situation,” she said, “but I’ve got this really great bunch of friends who I’m always there for, and they’re there for me, too. When I’m tempted to get down about what I don’t have, I just remember what I do have.” It’s much the same way we put the puzzle together when I was a kid–by focusing not on the missing pieces but the ones we had.

What completed puzzle parts do you rely on? Tell us in the comments section.

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