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.
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 actually hatred’s a subset of self pity and not the other way around – ‘It destroys everything around it, except itself ‘.
Self pity will destroy relationships, it’ll destroy anything that’s good, it will fulfill all the prophecies it makes and leave only itself.
And it’s so simple to imagine that one is hard done by, and that things are unfair, and that one is underappreciated, and that if only one had had a chance at this, only one had 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 think it’s one of things we find unattractive about the american culture, a culture which I find mostly, extremely attractive, and I like Americans and I love being in America.
But, just occasionally there will be some example of the absolutely ravening self pity that they are capable of, and you see it in their talk shows. It’s an appalling spectacle, and it’s so self destructive.
I almost once wanted to publish a self help book saying ‘How To Be Happy by Stephen Fry : Guaranteed success’. And people 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.
And it sounds like ‘Oh that’s so simple’, because it’s not simple to stop feeling sorry for yourself, it’s bloody hard. Because we do feel sorry for ourselves, it’s what Genesis is all about.
Stephen Fry (born 24 August 1957) is an English actor, comedian and writer. He and Hugh Laurie are the comic double act Fry and Laurie, who starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster.
Fry‘s film acting roles include playing his idol Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde (1997), a performance which saw him nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, Inspector Thompson in Robert Altman‘s murder mystery Gosford Park (2001), and Mr. Johnson in Whit Stillman‘s Love & Friendship (2016).
He also made appearances in Chariots of Fire (1981), A Fish Called Wanda (1988), and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) as well as V for Vendetta (2005), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), and The Hobbit film series.
Fry is also known for his roles in television such as Lord Melchett in the BBC television comedy series Blackadder, the title character in the television series Kingdom, and Absolute Power, as well as a recurring guest role as Dr Gordon Wyatt on the American crime series Bones.
He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, which saw him explore his bipolar disorder, and the travel series Stephen Fry in America.
He was also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI, with his tenure lasting from 2003 to 2016 for which he was nominated for six British Academy Television Awards.
Besides working in television, Fry has been a prolific writer, contributing to newspapers and magazines and having written four novels and three volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles, and More Fool Me.
Fry is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings, narrating the LittleBigPlanet and Birds of Steel series of video games, as well as an animated series of explanations of the laws of cricket, and a series of animations about Humanism for Humanists UK.