According to a Zen proverb, "If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are." Reality, in other words, is the way it is, regardless of how much or how little we understand about life. One of the biggest barriers that will hold us back in this world is the big difference between what life is and what we think life ought to be. To be sure, false expectations about the world can be paralyzing to our human psyche. The majority of people spend way too much time idealizing how things ought to be - and way too little time observing and accepting how things really are.
They develop a theoretical understanding of the way this world ought to be, and then try living life as if this were true.
Unfortunately, fantasies about how the world ought to be tend to obscure how the world really is.
People lose sight of reality and then wonder why they can't make things work out the way they would like.
At the extreme, they end up being swept along by negative events without an understanding of what really is going on.
As a matter of course reality sets certain rules for playing the game of life.
It is essential that we learn these rules.
Only a muddle head persists in playing a game without learning the rules.
Reality can be harsh, but you better respect it.
Mess around with reality and it will knock you down every time.
Conversely, if you don't mess around with reality, then it won't mess around with you.
Reality doesn't care how good your intentions are.
If you mess around with gravity - and reality - by walking off the roof of a ten-story building, you will pay dearly for it.
This may earn you the no-brainer-of-the-week award but not much more.
Reality won't care that you were testing a new product to help humanity.
The fact that you were a decent person with good intentions won't make a bit of difference.
After all, life doesn't care how we would like it to be.
Sure, the rich ought to make less money and the poor ought to make more.
There ought to be better public-funded healthcare for everyone.
The government should build better freeways so our commuting time is cut to twenty minutes from an hour and a half.
This is starting to sound awesome indeed! It's easy to let our imaginations run wild about how things ought to be.
Fact is, nonetheless, it won't make any difference how much time we put into thinking about how life should be.
Life will remain the way it is.
An inscription in an Amsterdam cathedral reads, "It is so. It cannot be otherwise."
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't think about changing something distasteful in this world.
Think about changing it and then work toward it.
While attempting to change something, you must still deal with reality.
Unexpected events will derail your plans. It may take countless years of blood, sweat, and tears before you see any results.
You may not even see any results. It ought to be easier, but it won't be.
As harsh as reality is at times, facing reality can be good for you.
A big and hard dose of reality can do wonders for your life.
You can change your life dramatically the day you start living according to the way things are instead of the way they should be. Keep in mind that with the right attitude and substantial effort, reality can be much more interesting and rewarding than fantasy.
Putting things in the best possible way, life will never be the way we want
it to be or the way it ought to be. Accepting reality for what it is will liberate you from the imprisonment of what ought to be.
Most of our disappointments are due to our belief that life should be different from what it actually is.
You are unlikely to be happy and satisfied in this world unless you see life as what it truly is - and not some fantasy representing what you would like it to be.
"What is, is," proclaimed Lenny Bruce, "and what ought to be is a damn lie."
The bigger the difference between what is and what we think that life ought to be - the bigger the lie we are likely to live.
Get it out of your head that life should be a bowl of cherries. If you don't, you will only succeed in mastering the arts of nervous twitching and driving yourself insane.