We crave the approval of others. This seems to be part of the human condition. Everyone wants to be liked. And what better signs of approval are there than applause, or trophies, or certificates? We finish our performance and glow as the crowd claps their hands. We adorn our shelves with our hard won trophies, and decorate our walls with certificates that prove our worthiness. All symbols of approval.
But after the crowd leaves the auditorium, their applause is nothing but a memory - an echo lost in time. Our certificates fade in the sun, slowly degrading to nothing. And our trophies tarnish as the universe inevitably moves towards maximum entropy.
What does this tell us? Should we not seek the approval of others? Not at all. We need social relationships, and approval is better than disapproval or mere disinterest. But we should put things in perspective. We should be the best person we can be regardless of awards or applause. Those things do not last, and a life pursuing them for their own sake will never bring contentedness. After all, there's always another certificate to be hung on the wall. But how many are required for fulfillment? How many will make us truly happy? Do they really matter?
Perhaps we should remind ourselves that happiness can be found in our actions rather than the pieces of paper people give us.