What is it that we should prize?
An audience clapping? No.
No more than the clacking of their tongues. Which is all that public praise amounts to — a clacking of tongues. So we throw out other people’s recognition. What’s left for us to prize? I think it’s this: to do (and not do) what we were designed for. That’s the goal of all trades, all arts, and what each of them aims at: that the thing they create should do what it was designed to do. The nurseryman who cares for the vines, the horse trainer, the dog breeder — this is what they aim at. And teaching and education — what else are they trying to accomplish? So that’s what we should prize. Hold on to that, and you won’t be tempted to aim at anything else. And if you can’t stop prizing a lot of other things? Then you’ll never be free — free, independent, imperturbable. Because you’ll always be envious and jealous, afraid that people might come and take it all away from you. Plotting against those who have them — those things you prize. People who need those things are bound to be a mess — and bound to take out their frustrations on the gods. Whereas to respect your own mind — to prize it — will leave you satisfied with your own self, well integrated into your community and in tune with the gods as well — embracing what they allot you, and what they ordain

Marcus Aurelius

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