I am presently reading Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, and in it he quotes a bit from Michel de Montaigne which is worth sharing.
“A man have have a great suite of attendants, a beautiful palace, great influence and a large income. All that may surround him, but it is not in him…Measure his height with his stilts off; let him lay aside his wealth and his decorations and show himself to us naked….What sort of soul does he have? Is his soul a beautiful one, able, happily endowed with all her functions? Are her riches her own or are they borrowed? Has luck had nothing to do with it? ….That is what we need to know; that is what the immense distances between us men should be judged by.”
I couldn’t help but be reminded from a quote from Marcus Aurelius, too:
“Everything in any way beautiful has its beauty of itself, inherent and self-sufficient: praise is no part of it. At any rate, praise does not make anything better or worse. This applies even to the popular conception of beauty, as in material things or works of art. So does the truly beautiful need anything beyond itself? No more than law, no more than truth, no more than kindness or integrity. Which of these things derives its beauty from praise, or withers under criticism? Does an emerald lose its quality if it is not praised? And what of gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a dagger, a flower, a bush?”