Life is a Picture-Perfect Puzzle

“Most people think happiness is about gaining something, but it’s not. It’s all about getting rid of the darkness you’ve accumulated.” – Carolyn Crane

I posted this quote a few weeks ago, but I had to revisit it because it presents such a different perspective on happiness as we know it.

Let me begin by stating that I do believe that things and people have the ability to bring us happiness, or at least encourage happiness. We would all be liars if we said this is not true. My family, friends, my wonderful future husband, and having a few extra bucks in my pocket make me very happy. And to be perfectly honest, I look forward to and hope for more love and more money. Really, who wouldn’t?

But when I look at society and within myself, there seems to be this insatiable desire to chase happiness at all costs. We chase and chase without ever looking internally to examine the thoughts and areas of our past that may be preventing us from finding or sustaining happiness. Some of us still carry negative thoughts, warped perceptions, shallow vision, and sabotaging behaviors that often cause us to overlook and destroy the happiness right in front of us.

Storytime: Imagine with me for a moment that you are sitting on the floor in the middle of a medium-sized room. On the walls around you are bright colorful pieces of art neatly arranged against white walls. Scattered in the spaces among these paintings are large framed quotes of what you later realize are successful people of our time.

As you put your hand down to begin standing up, you hear a crunching noise and the feeling of something small and sturdy beneath you. Around you are about 1000 puzzle pieces randomly piled in all directions. Fascinated by the paintings and quotes, you begin walking across the room with your eye fixed on a frame entitled “Keys to Happiness.” As you get closer you notice the quotation is by [insert the name of a person whose success you admire and dream to have].

Eager to see more, you examine every piece arranged around the room, noting every signature on the paintings and each name quoted in a frame. They are all from people you admire. Naturally, you begin examining your life and plotting out what you need to do to achieve the level of happiness expressed through every piece. How did they create such beautiful pieces? How did they create such beautiful lives?

As you ponder on each piece, you begin to notice that the puzzle pieces scattered across the floor have a seemingly consistent color scheme. You see the shades of blues, greens, browns, whites, and yellows and realize that they connect to create a larger image. Confused as to why they are randomly in the middle of the room, you begin looking around for a box or someone to explain the odd occurrence.

Across the room, you spot an intercom and are ready to push the button when you notice something strange about one of the paintings. Now less than 12 inches away from it, you discover that the painting is actually made up of tiny puzzle pieces! Astonished, you look toward the floor, drop to your knees, and begin trying to assemble the puzzle.

After five minutes of intense focus, you pick up a few puzzle pieces and find a note: “If you can assemble this beautiful masterpiece, it is all yours.” Determined to own a piece of art, you painstakingly find each piece one at a time.

While assembling the pieces, you notice that they do indeed fit together but are damaged thanks to you walking all over them. Nonetheless, you carry on building your masterpiece. Halfway through your impromptu art project, you make a startling discovery. You are a part of the puzzle. Somewhat disappointed that you might not be building a masterpiece if you are in it, you still continue on curious to see what the entire image will reveal.

Finally finished, you take three giant steps back to see an image of you within [insert the people, things, or places that you envision as your ultimate image of happiness]. In awe, you realize the beauty in front of you but also all the dents and rips you created as you crushed your own picture in pursuit of everyone else’s in the room. As you look around again, you now notice that every beautiful image and success quote in the room is made up of tiny puzzle pieces.

Overwhelmed by the experience, you slowly sit back on the floor. While staring at your partially self-inflicted, damaged image of happiness, you realize that your beautiful masterpiece could have been as beautiful as the collection in the room if only you had not been so quick to trample it reaching for someone else’s dream.

The moral of the story: Find happiness in the small puzzle pieces life has given you. They are beautiful. Borrowing pieces from someone else’s puzzle will never quite fit yours perfectly. However, what you can take from their puzzles are the steps they took to learn how to love the puzzle pieces they were given and how they used the small piece to create a beautiful personal masterpiece.

The opening quote reminds me to not overlook the light that is inside of me. We have the potential to create the same bright happiness we see in others, but we have filled ourselves with so much “darkness” that we believe that our light is not bright enough to create anything similar. If we were to get rid of some of the “darkness,” I am positive that we would see happiness in the small things, in the people around us, in the present situation, and in ourselves. We would move from chasing happiness to becoming happy.

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