“You are entitled only to your labor, not the fruits of your labor” is what Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Think about this. Think about how things would change if you lived as if this were true. I know I feel a strong sense of entitlement and I often say, “I deserve that or I earned that” when I don’t get what I want and am upset. If I stop to think about the teachings of the Gita, I would realize that my entitlement is misplaced and ultimately the true source of my grief.
Many bad feelings stem from the belief that you are owed something that you are not receiving. If we abandoned that belief and chose to believe that we are only entitled to our actions and our efforts and gave up expectations for more, we could come to a place of peace. I am entitled to do my work, the better I do it, the better I feel. If I am rewarded in some way, it is a gift and I have great gratitude and thanks for that gift but am not attached to it. If I am not rewarded externally, I am not upset because my self satisfaction comes from doing my job well and not from the reward.
Our society is predicated on rewards and most people have come to use them as motivation. That is a double-edged sword because it can cause people to do great things and achieve great results but often leads to bad feelings when they receive the reward and it doesn’t bring them the happiness they thought it would or when they put forth a great effort and do not get the reward and feel bitter and upset that all the work was a waste. How tragic in both instances.
Do the work. Enjoy the work. Take pride in the work. When the work is its own reward you will do better work and find greater joy and peace of mind. When the work is always a means to an end, you will never find peace.