These are basic human instincts – to maximize joy and minimize pain. It sounds very simple when you say it out loud, but it is not simple at all. For example, is it OK to maximize your joy if it causes pain to others in the process? Is it possible to avoid working through pain or grief to get to joy on the other side? Yeah, it’s complicated.
If life is a theme park ride, make mine a roller coaster. There will be high highs and plunging lows, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns and upside down loops. And you don’t get the thrilling dive from the top unless you suffer the slow clickety climb up the hill first. Sometimes you have to feel pain or take risks to experience joy.
By contrast there is the carousel, or the merry-go-round as we called it. You sit on a fake horse that barely goes up and down, and it goes around and around and around. And then it goes around again. It gets boring pretty fast. What does the merry-go-round have going for it? It’s safe and predictable and probably won’t make you throw up on your Power Ranger backpack.
So if the search for joy is a roller coaster, and the avoidance of pain is a merry-go-round, which ride are you riding in your life right now?