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The “No Suffering” Rule

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

The “No Suffering” Rule

Achieving without grieving.
Michael  Neill
Michael Neill More by this author
Jul 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Imagine playing a game without any rules. Would chess be any fun (or even playable) if you could move any piece in any direction at any time? Or think about a car race where drivers were allowed to take shortcuts across the middle of the track. Would there even be a point in participating in that kind of an event?

The point is this: It’s the rules that create the game.

Change the rules of poker and you’re playing blackjack—change the rules again and you’re playing gin rummy or even old maid.

Now, one game that a lot of us play in life is “the results game.” In fact, many people spend the majority of their time in pursuit of results—career results, financial results, relationship results, and more. And while we all have made up slightly different rules for how the results game is played, there are a few that most of us share: 

  • Set goals (i.e. define “winning”)
  • Keep score (i.e. track progress)
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (i.e. the “golden” rule)

Over the past six months, I have added one additional rule to my version of the results game which has revolutionized the way in which I play. I call it the “no suffering” rule.

Simply stated, the “no suffering” rule dictates that I be at least as committed to not suffering in my pursuit of results as I am to creating them. This means that according to the rules of my game, the results I create only count as a win if I don't suffer while creating them.

This is no different than a rule stating that if a runner or cyclist takes steroids their results don’t count, even if they won the gold medal or Tour de France. With the “no suffering” rule in effect, I have to find a way to win (i.e. create the result I desire) without suffering or my results will be disqualified.

Instituting this rule has actually led to a number of changes in the way I pursue results:

  • I’m now sleeping an average of 7 hours a night (up from 5 -6 in the past).
  • I’m now starting on projects earlier so I don’t bump up so hard against a deadline.
  • If a path to my result looks unpleasant to me, I will not take it, even if it seems the most direct way to my desired result. Instead, I will find a more enjoyable and creative path.
  • If the people I’m working with are contributing to my suffering, I either find different people to work with or, if I can’t or won’t do that, I take the time to transform my relationship with them.
  • Instead of always seeking perfection, more and more of the time I seek satisfaction.

Remember, the “no suffering” rule doesn't mean you are no longer committed to results. It just means that you may need to become a bit more creative and flexible in how you go about creating them.

Here’s how you can put this rule to the test in your own life over the next month:

  1. Choose a practice goal—a result you would like to create in your life in the next 30 days. Examples: Writing the first/next fifty pages of your book; losing that last 10 pounds; or making an additional $100/$1000/$10,000 in income.
  2. Commit to achieving your result without suffering. That means that if you’re dreading doing it the way you’re about to do it, DON'T DO IT THAT WAY!
  3. Take action and keep moving forward. To paraphrase the military strategist Hannibal, “We will either find a way or make one—without suffering!”

Remember: Suffering is optional—but you have to provide it for yourself!

About Author
Michael  Neill
Michael Neill is an internationally renowned transformative coach and the best-selling author of five books including The Inside-Out Revolution and Continue reading