I found the test philosophically naïve and unenlightened in ways that are worth discussing. It has no sense of paradox, which to me is ever-present when approaching the divine.
The world is indeed a dangerous place as we have learned this year in spades, but that’s not my attitude about it. I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to be composed of stardust, alive on a life-bearing planet in California in the 21st century, white, male and aware. I concur with undertaker and poet laureate Thomas Lynch (The Undertaking, Bodies in Motion and at Rest) that Americans suffer from their aversion to contemplating their mortality and corruption (the funeral home and the flush toilet being simultaneously introduced in the 1880s), so unlike the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. In awareness of life’s caprice and ultimate brevity lies our access to aliveness, wonder and bliss (e.g. George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life)
I didn’t know how to answer the question about the world being mostly pain and suffering. Sylvia Boorstein, a wonderful Buddhist writer, summed up her philosophy in It’s Easier Than You Think: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
For example, my working hypothesis in life is that it is entirely empty and meaningless, allowing me to make of it whatever I deem worthy. I share your finding that everything is connected and that the universe will support your declaration of purpose.
W.H. Murray The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative or creation, there is one elementary truth...that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves. too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have believed would have come his way.
I firmly believe in this couplet from Goethe: "Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it." [Ed. note; possibly a spiffed up translation by John Anster]
I also believe that the essence of spirituality is total acceptance of what is, which is to say abandoning all hope. Hope is toxic, because in its nature, it rejects what is, which in our case is pretty great. I highly recommend Everything is F*cked: a Book About Hope by Mark Manson which despite its obnoxious title is a deep read about a post-hope, non-transactional world view. Simultaneously, (and perhaps unlike you), I find that I have no appetite for contentment. It is in my nature to find something that needs fixing and dive in, just for the hell of it. This is not because the world is screwed up, but because I love the play element, like a good card game in which you and your opponents aren’t really sworn enemies, but you pretend to be because it’s fun.
To sum up, I work from the stance that life is utterly capricious and yet I am the source of all my experience. I don’t think the world rewards goodness – I think it is its own reward.