16 MAY 2009
Stephen Fry, talking to Mark Lawson on TV in September 2007 said:
Certainly the most destructive vice, if you like, that a person can have – more than pride, which is supposedly the number one of the cardinal sins – is self-pity.
I think self-pity is the worst possible emotion anyone can have. And the most destructive.
It is, to slightly paraphrase what Wilde said about hatred (and I think that hatred is a subset of self-pity, not the other way around) it destroys everything around it except itself.
Self-pity will destroy relationships; it will destroy anything that’s good, it will fulfill all the prophecies it makes and leave only itself.
It is so simple to imagine that one is hard done by and that things are unfair and that one is under-appreciated and that if only one had a chance at this or if only one had a chance at that things would have gone better: you would be happier if only this.. that one is unlucky.
All those things. And some of them may well even be true.
But to pity oneself as a result of them, is to do oneself an enormous disservice. [..]
I almost wanted once to publish a self-help book saying “How to be happy” by Stephen Fry.
And then people would buy this huge book and it’s all blank pages. And the first page would just say:
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself
and you will be happy.
Use the rest of the book to write down your interesting thoughts and drawings.”
And that’s what the book would be and it would be true. It sounds like “oh, that’s so simple.”
But, of course, it’s not simple to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Bloody hard. Because we do feel sorry for ourselves.