“If you are empty handed, the highway man passes you by: even along an infested road, the poor may travel in peace.” – Seneca
There is more to avoiding the excesses of luxury than just not appearing too full of ourselves and not allowing ourselves to be softened by luxury. We should avoid the excesses of luxury because they also make enemies for us. They make the people close to us resentful, not because we are successful, but because we allow the success to change the way we act. And we are the culmination of the little things we choose to do everyday, including becoming accustomed to luxury.
By becoming accustomed to luxury we allow those around us to have to suffer through conversations, dinners, and vacations with us as we – consciously or not – dwell on the fact that at this moment we are enjoying some measure of success. A little later on when that success evaporates, they will be the first in line to enjoy our suffering as the life we have allowed ourselves to become accustomed to falls apart.
Right or wrong, that is how they’ll see it. We can avoid this by recognizing that the success we experience – as well as the failure – have little to do with us and more to do with externals outside of our control. Not that we can’t set ourselves up for success, but setting ourselves up to succeed is no way a guarantee of success and experiencing success is not contingent on only our abilities and what we have done.
Instead, in both success and failure, we should remain grateful for the opportunity to test ourselves, and we should be thankful to get the opportunity to do it again and again until we finally have to leave the arena.
Because gratitude is everything.
virtus fortis vocat