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The same thing was said long ago by Metrodorus, the earliest disciple of Epicurus, who wrote as the title of one of his chapters, The happiness we receive from ourselves is greater than that which we obtain from our surroundings And it is an obvious fact, which cannot be called in question, that the principal element in a mans well-being,-indeed, in the whole tenor of his existence,-is what he is made of, his inner constitution.
...If these powers are small, no efforts from without, nothing that his fellowmen or that fortune can do for him, will suffice to raise him above the ordinary degree of human happiness and pleasure, half animal though it be; his only resources are his sensual appetite,-a cozy and cheerful family life at the most,-low company and vulgar pastime; even education, on the whole, can avail little, if anything, for the enlargement of his horizon.
...So the first and most essential element in our lifes happiness is what we are,-our personality, if for no other reason than that it is a constant factor coming into play under all circumstances: besides, unlike the blessings which are described under the other two heads, it is not the sport of destiny and cannot be wrested from us;-and, so far, it is endowed with an absolute value in contrast to the merely relative worth of the other two.
...But here is another instance of the truth, that hardly any evil is entirely without its compensation; for the misfortunes and sufferings which the [Greek: auskoloi], that is, people of gloomy and anxious character, have to overcome, are, on the whole, more imaginary and therefore less real than those which befall the gay and careless; for a man who paints everything black, who constantly fears the worst and takes measures accordingly, will not be disappointed so often in this world, as one who always looks upon the bright side of things.
... So arises an inclination to suicide, which even the most trivial unpleasantness may actually bring about; nay, when the tendency attains its worst form, it may be occasioned by nothing in particular, but a man may resolve to put an end to his existence, simply because he is permanently unhappy, and then coolly and firmly carry out his determination; as may be seen by the way in which the sufferer, when placed under supervision, as he usually is, eagerly waits to seize the first unguarded moment, when, without a shudder, without a struggle or recoil, he may use the now natural and welcome means of effecting his release.[