"Circumstances are the rulers of the weak;—they are but the instruments of the wise."
—Samuel Lover, Rory O'More
"[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
—Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
"Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself."
—James Allen, As a Man Thinketh (the quote is often misattributed to Epictetus as "Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself.")
"Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances."
—Mahatma Gandhi, A Cry from Germany in Young India (1924-1926)
"Is it possible, then, to derive advantage from these things?—Yes, from everything.—Even from the man who reviles me?—And what good does his wrestling-companion do the athlete? The very greatest. So also my reviler becomes one who prepares me for my contest; he exercises my patience, my dispassionateness, my gentleness. You say: No. But the man who lays hold of my neck and gets my loins and my shoulders into proper shape helps me, and the rubber does well when he says, 'Lift the pestle with both hands,' and the heavier it is, the more good I get out of doing so; whereas, if a man trains me to be dispassionate, does he do me no good? Your attitude means that you do not know how to derive advantage from men. Is your neighbour bad? Yes, for himself; but for me he is good; he exercises my good disposition, my fair-mindedness. Is your father bad? Yes, for himself; but for me he is good. This is the magic wand of Hermes. 'Touch what you will,' the saying goes, 'and it will turn into gold.' Nay, but bring whatever you will and I will turn it into a good. Bring disease, bring death, bring poverty, reviling, peril of life in court; all these things will become helpful at a touch from the magic wand of Hermes. 'What will you make of death?' Why, what else but make it your glory, or an opportunity for you to show in deed thereby what sort of person a man is who follows the will of nature. 'What will you make of disease?' I will show its character, I will shine in it, I will be firm, I will be serene, I will not fawn upon my physician, I will not pray for death. What else do you still seek? Everything that you give I will turn into something blessed, productive of happiness, august, enviable."
—Epictetus, Book III, Chapter 20, That it is possible to derive advantage from everything external