Success makes us lazy and stupid

A recurring - and very characteristic - theme in Seneca’s writings is that luxury corrupts human beings. This is why he thinks we should be very suspicious of the things that are called preferred indifferents in Stoicism - such as wealth, fame and good looks. Interestingly, in the present period in history a lot of people seem to think of “the rich” as vain, arrogant and not too clever - but those same people would still like to be rich, famous and beautiful. They seem to think that the successful people were corrupted to begin with and, unfairly, became successful. It does not seem to occur to them that it could have been success that corrupted them. What do you think?

Flee from delights, flee from good fortune that drains your strength. In good fortune your minds are dissolved, and unless something intervenes to remind you of your lot as human beings, your minds fade as if put to sleep in an unending drunkenness. If someone has always been protected from gusts by windows, if his feet are warm from a succession of heated applications, if his dining rooms have been tempered by heat coming from under the floor and piped through the walls, the touch of a light breeze will be dangerous. Because all things are harmful that have exceeded due measure, an excess of good fortune is exceedingly dangerous. It disturbs the brain. It lures our thoughts into baseless fantasies. It infuses a great deal of fogginess between fiction and truth. Why would it not be more preferable to endure unending misfortune by summoning virtue than to be broken asunder by “good” things lacking limit or measure? Death by starvation is gentler: from feasting men explode”.

- Seneca, On Providence, 4.9