Typically, when we think of the good life we think of a life that’s free from pain and suffering. And certainly we don’t want to invite unnecessary suffering when it can be avoided. But life in this world includes a fair amount of pain. And this is often the cost that must be paid to enjoy life to the full.
For instance, this can be seen simply with the family pet. The joy the pet brings also comes with the reality of loss. This pet will one day die. But the cost of this pain is generally worth the years of happiness beforehand. Our life is richer and fuller even though this pain of loss was mixed in.
And this plays out in marriage, friendship, work, parenting, and the like. Perhaps through loss, or disappointment, or the many ways we simply let each other down.
Of course, it’s tempting to avoid pain at all costs. But this leaves our life impoverished and shallow at best. The only way to avoid pain is to avoid all those things that bring depth and meaning into our lives. To open our hearts to the possibility of love is to also open to the possibility of being hurt.
This is not to suggest our lives should be primarily marked by suffering. But it’s a reminder that some pain is usually part of the package for what we consider the good life. And we miss much of the beauty and joy of life when we play it safe to avoid pain at all costs.
We can either choose the natural pain that comes from pursuing the good. Or, by default, we’re choosing the pain that comes from never experiencing a full life.
In the end, playing it safe robs you of the good life. Living a life of meaning and depth requires you to accept the risk, pain, and suffering that comes with it.