The Buddha’s first noble truth says that life is suffering. What’s this obsession with suffering? If I don’t feel like I’m suffering am I still a Buddhist?
The usual translation you mention—“Life is suffering”—does a disservice to the subtlety of the first noble truth. A fairer translation is “Life is marked by suffering,” which means that suffering isn’t all we experience but it’s always present. Yes, we have happiness and joy, but we never escape the suffering of not getting what we want, the suffering of losing it when we do get it, and the underlying anxiety of not having a solid self. The word usually translated as suffering, dukkha, actually means a wheel that is not round and gives a bumpy ride. The point is that life doesn’t work very well. As the late Thinley Norbu Rinpoche once said, “Samsara? That’s nothing but an endless series of mistakes.” The reason people get discouraged by Buddhism’s emphasis on suffering is that they think they’re stuck with it. But the first noble truth points to the next three truths, which tell us that life will work much better if we let go of the suffering caused by maintaining the fiction of a solid self. The truth of suffering is not a life sentence but the first step on the path to enlightenment. It is a cause of hope, not of despair.