If life's a bitch, what are we really missing if we just get straight to the dying part? In Buddhism, life is suffering, but the source of that suffering is craving, the perpetual wheel of discontent, that really has a whole lot less to do with us personally than we tend to think.
Craving, though, comes from the view that things can get better. That even if we're not happy at the moment, we can be, if we just work at it. Life may be suffering right now but hang in there, it'll be worth it.
It can even look like craving is all that keeps people thinking they're happy. Most people seem to be at their happiest, when they think they're going to be.. soon. When they finally do get what they thought was so important, it slips by so quickly, and they're already thinking about what will really make them happy, next. In the culture I'm familiar with, it sure looks like the happiest people are the ones who crave the most, and the miserable people are the ones who can't find any reason to believe things can ever get better.
Of course, looks are often deceiving, but on closer inspection, I've simply found that sometimes it's true, sometimes not. Buddhism is all about making peace with the moment, regardless of circumstances. It seems to work for some, better than others. Materialism is all about getting excited for whatever new toy you talk yourself into looking forward to next, and that also seems to work for some, better than others.
I'm not really sure what to make of all this. Being the miserable curmudgeon that I am, I've been trying to figure it out, all my life.. People have all sorts of explanations for why they are the way they are, and how well it works for them, but nobody's been able to offer up a whole lot of solid evidence that their rhetoric actually helps anyone else.
Lately, it sure looks like it's mostly just a lot of nonsensical misinterpretation of conditions almost entirely biological, in nature. This is still a leap of faith though. It's just the explanation with the least gaping holes in it.
This would all be pretty funny, if I weren't too overwhelmed by my own present circumstances to laugh about it.