They see other young people in easy circumstances, lacking nothing, with no hardships to endure, called to no self-denial, living in ease, with every opportunity for study, travel, and recreation. It is not easy for them to avoid a feeling of envy in such circumstances. Nor is it easy to accept the limitations of one’s condition complacently, without any feeling of being unfairly treated.
Yet the problem to be worked out by those who appear not to have an equal chance, is to accept their place with its disadvantages and its inequalities, and to live just as sweetly and cheerfully as if they were in the most luxurious circumstances.
The danger always is that we may be hurt by life in some way. Yet nothing can really hurt us—so long as we keep love and peace in our hearts. No hardship of any kind can do us actual harm—if we meet it victoriously. But when we allow ourselves to chafe and fret because things are hard, or to complain because things seem unfair, or to grow bitter because we do not have a fair chance—that moment life is hurting us.
The worst mistake anyone can make, in such a case, is to brood over what seems to be unfairness in his lot in life, indulging the feeling that he has not been justly dealt with. The result is that his heart grows bitter and hard, that he begins to pity himself and to look upon others more highly favored with envy, which soon grows into hatred. Nothing but harm can come out of such a feeling. It does not reduce the inequalities in any degree. It does not make it easier to get on. On the other hand, it spoils the life, turning its sweetness into bitterness. It also lessens the heart’s enthusiasm and diminishes its power to live nobly.
The only worthy way to meet such a condition, is with courage and purpose to master disadvantages.