Menticulture - Worry Is A Coward And Anger Is A Tyrant
( Originally Published 1901 )
The idea embodied in Mr. Fletcher's " Menticulture," or " True Living," was used by the ancients as a basis for various systems of philosophy in defining true happiness, or that which was farthest removed from the passions, and to which they gave the name of
repose." Modern life, infinitely more complicated, forever multiplying causes, is in-finitely farther removed from repose than was life among the ancients; but yet has for its primary disturbing element the same old human passions of anger and worry, though it appears to me that there is but one original root worry, the coward, which gives birth to anger, the tyrant.
It is therefore safe to conclude, with Mr. Fletcher, that the present causes of unhappiness are the ancient roots grown infinite in variety, and only by restraining them is there an approach to happiness.
To overcome these evils one must first of all be free from externals, must act from will alone, and, as Epictetus put it, " One should be taught to will only that which conforms to law," and he who conforms to law will, from knowledge, " learn to wish that everything may happen as it does." Possession brings discontent, another name for worry. He who has nothing which his neighbor covets, and who covets nothing which his neighbor has, helps to free him-self from external influences opposed to law.
The truly free man adapts himself to law, realizing the nothingness of most things and his insignificance of self. The secret of adaptation is in the Socratic " Know thy-self." To-day, externals govern, not the will. Desire, and not knowledge, is the god worshiped. They count happiness as some-thing which may be purchased with ill-gotten gains. To-day we trust entirely to our bodies, and a man, to again quote Epictetus, " ought not to be invincible in the way that an ass is," " know thyself," and thou wilt free thyself; free thyself, and happiness is thine.