Sometimes I wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and immediately feel something is wrong. Actually, this isn't true. Nothing is happening in the world outside of my head that shouldn't be.
But I've fast-forwarded my life beyond the present moment.
Looking ahead to making coffee, taking the dog out with me to get the newspaper, eating breakfast, and then starting on the daily chores that come with living in a non-easy-care home, my psyche gets disconnected from here-and-now reality.
This produces that sense of wrongness, which most people feel in one way or another. We Homo sapiens are fortunate to be so sapient, but with self-awareness comes problems other species seemingly don't have.
Our dog appears to experience various emotions and sensations during the day. Boredom. Enthusiasm. Lassitude. Hunger. Thirst. To name a few.
However, I never sense that one of the things going on inside her canine brain is a feeling of this shouldn't be happening. She may not like what's happening -- vet visit, stay in the kennel -- but I don't see any sign that she expects something else should be occurring instead.
To me, this is one of the foundations of religiosity: the peculiar ability of the human mind to visualize or imagine a state of affairs that is markedly different from what is actually happening.
Usually, or at least often, this is a good thing. We wouldn't be human without this capacity for constructing an alternative view of reality. We think "this could be" while contemplating what is.
Religions, though, take this too far. Way too far.
All the way to heaven, nirvana, paradise, astral realms, and other fantasized states of being where the ups and downs of everyday life are transformed into Eternal Perfection.
The normal sense of something is wrong which flows from our ability to compare "what is" with "what should be" is amplified by religious dogma into an all-encompassing desire to end Wrongness forever.
God, enlightenment, or some other divine goal is seen as the final solution to all of life's nagging irritations.
Which leads to a strange paradox: usually all the little wrongness'es we have to deal with make us feel like life is a little bit wrong; but religions typically say that human life is really wrong, because we're sinfully fallen, karmically trapped, or otherwise separated from Life As It Is Meant To Be Lived -- which, of course, can only be experienced if we do what a holy book or holy person says will lead to union with Ultimate Rightness.
So now religious believers have a super-sense that something is wrong with life. In fact, it isn't just "something," but "everything," since their goal now is to escape from this crappy, illusory, deceptive, sinful physical world entirely, not just tidy up life's rough edges.
This is crazy.
Here's one of my favorite Meister Eckhart quotes (he was a medieval Christian mystic who was considered a heretic by the Catholic church, so I like the guy).
Now I hear you ask, 'How do I know that it is God's will?' My answer is that if it were not God's will even for a moment, then it would not exist. Whatever is must be his will. If God's will is pleasing to you, then whatever happens to you, or does not happen to you, will be heaven. Those who desire something other than God's will get their just reward, for they are always in trouble and misery.
I suspect that Eckhart would have been totally comfortable with leaving "God" out of his answer, but in the 13th and 14th centuries that wasn't a cool thing for a German preacher to do.
Basically he's saying, "What is, is, and what isn't, isn't. Deal with it. Don't deny it." However, lots of religious types do deny the aspects of life that they wish were different from what they are.
This includes their own thoughts, their own feelings, their own desires, their own supposed failings. Often this manifests as a rigid rejection of life as it is, because it doesn't match up with what some holy scripture or teaching says is how life should be.
Again, this is a crazy and unproductive way to live.
Much better is to follow a martial arts adage: A, B, C. Accept, blend, control. This is more of an "internal" martial arts approach (tai chi, aikido, jui-jitsu, and such) than an "external" (karate, boxing, and such) approach, but applies to some degree in all styles.
First we have to accept the reality of whatever is coming at us, whether this be a physical punch thrown by someone else or a mental worry produced by our own psyche. Mindfulness, awareness, attention -- that's the key. Seeing what is actually happening as clearly as possible.
Then we blend with this reality. Almost always, forceful rejection isn't the best way to go. Getting to know the situation, understanding it, embracing what's happening in all of it's perceived goodness and badness -- this is how we connect with a seeming problem closely enough to be able to deal with it.
Which brings us to control. If someone or something is attacking us, whether that entity be inside or outside of our own head, it behooves us to do something. That might be "nothing," of course, but choosing to do nothing is something. Here's where mindful living parts company with mindless religion.
Religions typically want us as helpless as possible.
Promoting faith, grace, surrender, and obedience are how they keep people enslaved. Religions wouldn't survive if people felt they could handle life's problems on their own, and that dealing with a sense of wrongness didn't require fervent devotion to an invisible God.
Life is pretty damn simple, the way I see it.
What's happening is... what's happening. If we don't like what's happening, we can either try to change it, or we can decide to accept it -- thereby eliminating the difference between "what is" and "what should be."
Introducing God, the supernatural, and/or unprovable dogmas such as destiny, fate, karma, sin, and such doesn't contribute to our ability to deal with life. Take life as it is, unless you want it to be otherwise.
Don't deny what is actually happening. Accept it. Blend with it. Control it. Most important of all, smile with it as much as possible.