Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

by | Nov 9, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

This Buddhist saying packs a ton of wisdom into six powerful words. Embracing its meaning can change your life.

Intellectually, we understand that there’s no way to go through life without an occasional kick to the gut, no matter how safe you play it or the controls you put into place.

Things get a little tricky when we try to unpack the idea that “suffering is optional”.

Suffering is the frustration we feel when life isn’t turning out the way we expected. And as you know, we can be a little selfish when life doesn’t go our way.

For example, a few weeks ago, I threw my back out which kept me in bed for one day and barely moving for another four.

If you asked my wife, you’d have thought I’d fallen out of a 6-story window and would never walk again. Over and over, I moaned, “This is so unfair!”

The pain from tweaking a nerve in my lower back was inevitable and for some reason, I was determined to ensure the suffering was just as irritating.

When you feel pain (physical or psychological), ask a simple question – “Am I creating and/or adding to the suffering?”

When the likely answer is “yes”, I find it helpful to follow up with “How can I refocus my energy and attention?”


CJ McClanahan

Speaker | Advisor | Recovering Overachiever

P.S. If you’re interested in maximizing your leadership team’s potential without adding anxiety, worry or burn out, contact me to learn more about the NextLevel Coaching Program™.



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