The misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool.
It is hard to deny that chance, fate or luck – howsoever one refers to that serendipitous element of uncertainty, the one that is beyond human control – does play a role in our success or failure. However, the extent of its role is highly debatable. Even so, it is safe to assume that most, if not all, of our destiny is determined by the course of our own actions and hard work. In most cases, we reap what we sow – both good and bad. The harder we work, the more likely we are to succeed.
Some people, however, fall in the bad habit of attributing both their accomplishments and defeats to fate. This creates the perfect breeding ground for defeatism. People start assigning more importance to chance than they need to. They start downplaying all their achievements, thus undermining the hard work they actually put in to get there, while overemphasizing and reading too much into their failures. This eventually leads to a situation wherein there is no more incentive for putting in the hard yards; one wherein everything can be conveniently blamed on fate.
While wise men draw the right lessons from even their miseries, foolish people have no idea of the value of their accomplishments. The wise use their failures to fine-tune their strategy for success, whereas the unwise fail to use their achievements as a launchpad for even greater prosperity. While one believes in himself to turn things around, the other gives in to inaction.
Like ancient India, ancient Greece too has been the fountainhead of priceless wisdom for mankind. Epicurus was one such Greek sage, whose philosophy has greatly enriched our global repository of knowledge. In Epicurus’ Epistle to Menoeceus (also known as Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus), he had remarked: “The misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool.”