Seneca from “On Tranquility”

When we are ashamed to confess the cause of our troubles, or when modesty compels us to conceal troubles, the passions have no outlet and begin to strangle each other. This is the cause of sadness and melancholy and a thousand fluctuations of a vacillating mind. It is held in suspense by unfulfilled hopes, by dejection, by sorrow.

This leads to complaints about how we have nothing to do and to the bitter envy of others. Unhappy idleness feeds envy and a wish that all fail because I have not succeeded. And so, from envy and hopelessness, comes a mind that is angry at the good fortune of others, that complains about the state of the world, and that hides in corners and broods on why, why, why until it hates itself.

This happens because, by nature, the human mind is alert and ready to learn. Every opportunity to be aroused or diverted is welcome to the mind, but too welcome to the easily distracted who are always looking for something to do and somebody to blame. Just as some wounds long for the the person who caused them; just as some wounds love being prodded, just so minds that love toil and trouble find pleasure there.


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