A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Why does no one starve in a desert?” (joke) (11/27)
“How many apples grow on a tree?/"All of them.” (11/27)
“How many cranberries grow on a bush?"/"All of them.” (11/27)
“What’s the best thing to put into a cake or pie?"/"Your teeth.” (11/26)
“What are unhappy cranberries called?"/"Blueberries.” (11/26)
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Entry from February 10, 2014
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

"Pain is inevitable, suffering/misery is optional” is an inspirational proverb that has been printed on many posters. M. Kathleen Casey (or Kathleen Casey Theisen) is often credited with the saying. Japanese author Haruki Murakami wrote, in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2009), that he’d heard the mantra from another runner. The website Fake Buddha Quotes stated (in 2013) that the quotation does not come from Buddhism.

“My sponsor says pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional” was cited in print in 1980, in a book published by the Hazelden Foundation and Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s likely that the quotation first became popular in 12-step recovery programs.


Google Books
Step Two:
A Promise of Hope

By Alcoholics Anonymous (James G. Jensen, Hazelden Foundation)
Center City, MN: Hazelden
1980
Pg. 22:
“My sponsor says pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”

Google Books
The Best Is Yet to Be
By LeRoy Patterson
Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers
1986
Pg. 46:
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Kathleen Casey Theisen

Google Books
Moment by Moment:
The Art and Practice of Mindfulness

By Jerry Braza
Salt Lake City, UT: Healing Resources
1993
Pg. 34:
Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional — Anonymous

Google Books
What Is Healing Prayer All About?:
Answers to Most Frequently Asked Questions about Healing

By Peter McCall and Maryanne Lacy
Bronx, NY: House of Peace
1998
Pg. 37:
Alcoholics Anonymous has a slogan: “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

Google Books
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
By Haruki Murakami
New York, NY: Vintage Books
2009
Pg. VII:
One runner told of a mantra his older brother, also a runner, had taught him which he’s pondered ever since he began running. Here it is: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Google Books
1,001 Pearls of Runners’ Wisdom: Advice and Inspiration for the Open Road
Edited by Bill Katovsky
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2012
Pg. ?:
Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional —Haruki Murakami

Fake Buddha Quotes
Posted on November 16, 2013
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”
So “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” is a very valid teaching, and consonant with the Buddha’s teaching. But it’s not something that was said by the Buddha, or Hotei, or Jesus, or Santa Claus.
* The quote is often attributed to M. Kathleen Casey. The earliest attribution I’ve seen, from 1986 (“The Best is Yet to Be, by LeRoy Patterson), is to Kathleen Casey Theisen. I haven’t been able to find out anything about her.
(...)
COMMENTS
Mod on November 26, 2013 at 1:56 am said:
I first read about this quote from Haruki Murakami’s book called What I talked about when I talked about running. I saw it’s been attributed to him in some websites but even in his book, he clearly stated it was from another runner though he didn’t mention name.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityExercise/Running/Health Clubs • Monday, February 10, 2014 • Permalink