Stop Looking for Your Missing Piece


Meditations in Motion

The recent Christmas holiday left me awash in a wave of nostalgia for the time when my own children were little and living at home.

I am content with my capacity as a grandma, but it does take some getting used to. No longer in charge of the day’s festivities, it is now my place to play a supporting role, to be flexible about the time we have dinner, to get parental approval before buying gifts, to coordinate with other families and their contributions to the celebration. Not an easy task for a control freak used to being responsible for everything.

One of the aspects I don’t miss from those long-ago Christmases when my husband and I were young parents is the frantic last-minute search for the particular toy du jour that every kid wanted.

Luckily, my boys did not get caught up in the Cabbage Patch frenzy of the 1980s, but I can remember some frenetic quests for He-Man and Optimus Prime.

This was in the days before online searches were a thing, of course. There were no websites with up-to-date inventories showing how many items were on the shelves of toy stores.

I remember phoning every store I could think of to find these toys, then, when I finally found a store with one item left, begging the sales associate to hold it for me and making a mad dash, hoping all the while it would be there when I arrived 20 minutes later.

Now I think “Why?

Why was it so important? Would this toy fulfill some deep-seated need in one of my children? Show my kids the depth and breadth of my love for them? Give them an increased sense of security, stability, belonging? Help them get into the college of their choice?

Meditations in Motion

I am reminded of “The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein. In this book, a Pac Man-like circle with an absent wedge searches for his missing piece, thinking he will be happy forever if only he could locate it.

Of course, after the circle finds his missing piece, he is no happier than before; in fact, he is less satisfied, because now he quickly rolls past things that previously gave him pleasure like watching a butterfly or smelling a flower.

It makes me wonder how many of us are still searching for our missing piece.

When we believe we would be happy if only we possessed a certain object, a bigger house, a fancier car, an exciting new toy, we forfeit our present well-being.

Meditations in MotionSome of us believe joy is to be found only through a relationship with another person working out exactly the way we want it to. We envision an ideal bond and will move heaven and earth in an attempt to force the relationship into the shape we have imagined.

The problem with this mindset is that we each are responsible for our own happiness. You can’t get it from another person, even a beloved one. When we give another person that power, we are abdicating our responsibility to ourselves.

When we find ourselves obsessing over one person, this is the perfect time to ask what it is we believe we need from this person, then go about satisfying that need.

Do you need confidence? Approval? Courage? Fun? Love?

Ask yourself what you can do to give yourself whatever it is you need.

Then be open to adjusting your attitude, to unfolding your heart, to accepting the possibilities that life will bring your way. Because learning about yourself is always a good thing and self-acceptance brings peace, which is attractive to others.

Trust that an amazing relationship will find you when the time is right. Love can come from any direction at any time, even (especially?) when we least expect it.

Now that I think about it, maybe those toy searches for long-ago Christmas toys were more for me than the kids. Maybe I was trying to give my boys joy, which I now know is impossible. Each of them must find their own happiness. It can’t be found in a He-Man.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24


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Meditations in Motion












  1. So much time wasted looking for that missing piece! I always tried to get the kids what they wanted for Christmas but if I didn’t, I didn’t stress over it. Kids need to learn how to handle disappointment too. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s likely that I’ve done this before because every time I read a post about happiness I recommend this book: The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson is one of my favorite books. It explores what it really takes to be happy. It’s funny, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My understanding. Happiness is a fleeting feeling based on circumstances in which we might be participants. As a fruit of the Spirit, joy is otherworldly and not contextual. That is, we can be joyful through gladness and tears.

    Thank you for your post… made me think.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We don’t have kids but I remember those stories of parents frantically searching for the illusive toy du jour. I always wondered how long that toy – once purchased and given – would remain the object of the child’s affection and interest. I’m thinking not very long, or maybe just until the next “have to have” toy came out. “The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein is an amazing book that is full of wisdom. Maybe that should be on every parent’s next must-buy list for their kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, good point. Kids WANT the toys but do they actually play with them? You know, I can’t remember. I used to read Shel Silverstein to my kids all the time. Books are one item that was never in short supply!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, this really hit home. I nearly drove myself to exhaustion over a span of Christmases (and other occasions) trying to do exactly what you called out: make my children happy. They might have been happier with less He Man toys (how well I remember) and a calmer mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is so perfect and describes my approach to life – because what I am searching for is never outside myself, it is within. Everything I ever need is found within myself and my connection to God.

    I really think you are onto something here, Laurie, and these revelations come with having lived, learned and being put through the wringer. Often the outcome is wisdom gained and that beats a Cabbage Patch or Barbie or transformer any day. When we look back it’s not the things that are fondly remembered but the precious times we’ve enjoyed with loved ones and friends. We can’t take things with us to our next life, but we get to take the love!

    Great post! Great insight!

    Susan Grace

    Liked by 1 person

    • It kind of summarized what I always told my boys when they were growing up – you are responsible for your own happiness. Experiences are definitely more important than things. I believe Love is the only thing we can take with us – how beautiful! Thank you, Susan.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We bought toys for our children for Christmas, but I can’t remember that we ever had a frantic search for one particular item. The children did not watch an inordinate amount of TV, however they absorbed all the toy ads. My mantra was, “If you saw it on TV, you’re not getting it for Christmas.” That lowered their expectations! Never, ever did anyone have a meltdown because they didn’t get what they wanted.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. So true! I grew up thinking that I have to be married to be happy. I did get married and fortunately, I am very happy.
    However, it is only now that I am starting to realize that it isn’t necessary to be married to be happy. I have many single friends my age who are perfectly happy the way they are. As you say, we are responsible for our own happiness and – for a big part – it is irrelevant of our situation in life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I always tried to impress on my children that they are responsible for their own happiness. Once you accept that responsibility, our situation in life matters less to our overall happiness.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Hello,

    Pleasing to read your words of a love for life and of contentment, especially this: “Then be open to adjusting your attitude, to unfolding your heart, to accepting the possibilities that life will bring your way.”

    Thank you, for sharing.🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This reminds me of what Dorothy says at the end of “The Wizard of Oz.” Paraphrased – “When I go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look farther than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” We do look for love, acceptance, etc., in all the wrong places, don’t we, Laurie, when it is right in our hearts all the time.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. So true! Years ago a counselor told me that we’re responsible for “feeding ourselves the main course” – taking care of our own emotional needs. Other people provide the “dessert” in our lives. Does it make us happy? Of course. Is it required for us to sustain our basic nutrition? Nope!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That sounds like an interesting read by Shel Silverstein and I like the way you spun that “missing piece” idea into this post as well. I never had kids so can’t identify with the mad scramble for toys and when I was a kid I was given the Simpson’s or Eaton’s Christmas Catalog and allowed to pick a few things – one my grandparents got and one my parents got – I guess the alternative is if the catalog ran out. The Cabbage Patch frenze was incredible wasn’t it? That and Beanie Babies as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got an Amazon Christmas catalog this year and asked my grandsons to mark the toys they might want. The catalog even came with stickers for just that purpose. It worked well. So much easier to shop online these days than when my kids were younger when you actually had to go to the various stores! I remember Cabbage Patch and Beanie Babies, but my kids were never really interested in them, thank heavens!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. So many of your thoughts rang true for me too. I think we as parents want to give our kids things that keep their minds learning, and toys do that in a subtle way. When we buy them toys, we teach them how to think about what they want, how to dream about what they want, and then how to feel when we get that thing. Just like the book you quoted – then they learn what really brings them joy. I recently heard someone say, “happiness comes from our innate desire to keep learning new things, it’s not the possession/obsession of new things themselves, it’s the learning that matters most.” Your post confirms that message.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I couldn’t go the ‘you will get what you asked for’ route. I got them to write a small thing they think they need. A big would one day like and a if I could chose I would have. I told them the list was ideas for a busy santa, who would get an idea of what they were like then he would surprise everyone, with what he really wanted them to have. Two of my children revelled in the surprise! One seen it as a slight against him, and once said that “Santa stinks, and is the worst choser ever.” They are all grown and have Children of their own, still that one boy (man) remembers the list he did never get filled.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m thinking I need to buy that Shel Silverstein book for my grandkids! I’m at the stage of life where MiMi’s main function is to feed them and tread them books.

    I was thinking your post went along with St. Paul’s advice to be content in whatever state you are in.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Excellent point! The only toys I ever remember searching for were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and no, they didn’t satisfy my son. We’d no sooner find something and something else would come out. He liked collecting them, setting them up, but I don’t remember him actually PLAYING with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes. we went through that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turelt phase too. I forgot about them! There always was some new thing that all the boys had to have. Or so they thought!


  17. I had this a few years ago with the Hatchimal toys. My girls were desperate for them and they were nowhere to be found. I found them online but they wouldn’t deliver to the UK. Then my eldest, grown-up daughter was told by her friend in Germany that they were in the shops everywhere there, obviously not so popular. So she bought them and sent them over. On Christmas Day my girl’s opened their precious toys and played for them for 20 minutes and have never looked at them since! So, I agree, that missing piece is not so important after all and we shouldn’t wear ourselves out looking for it. Great, thoughtful post as usual Laurie x

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is so true! I have been thinking a lot lately about why I want things (non-necessary things, anyway) and what I hope to get out of them and whether it isn’t better to get that enjoyment or fulfillment or whatever some other way. Interesting read as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hope no-one from the advertising world is reading this, Laurie: their whole industry, and marketing too, are based on creating a ‘need’ for something, and then convincing you the product or service they have been hired to push will fulfill that ‘need! Freudian, too, the notion of the unconscious chain of desire. #WOTW

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ahh! I always wanted a Cabbage Patch doll but never got one. Hmmf. I remember in the run up to Christmas searching for the one toys my girls wanted and to be honest once they had them they were not to bothered with them. Eesh!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I’ve not heard of the book. It sounds like it has a good message. With all the hustle and bustle of life, it is hard to get perspective at times. I like the idea that as a contented person that you attract others to you, and maybe the missing piece wasn’t really what you needed. Food for thought, as ever. #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

  22. That line from Psalm 118 is one that often pops into my head. So true that we are responsible for our own happiness and sometimes we do spend so much time searching for something that we think is missing and miss out on the joy of what we have now. I remember the craze for He-Man and Optimus Prime. Used to spend hours with my nephew playing with his He-Man toys 🙂 #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

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