Doing something for personal gain is never as enjoyable.
Everything seems so much sweeter when it comes from a place of simple enjoyment or from the desire to help others.
There are many things you do just for the love of doing it. Like singing in your car. Or dancing alone in your room. There’s no end in mine with those. Yet they’re awesome. You’re just doing something out of pure enjoyment and expression in the moment.
Doing something to get a certain outcome or to get something in return usually backfires on some level. Expectation enters the equation. And sometimes a little bit of desperation can enter as well. It’s hard to enjoy life from a place of expectation or desperation.
It’s not that “getting something” is a bad thing. But when that’s the motivation, we separate ourselves from the enjoyment of doing something for its own sake. And we seem to diminish the value of what we have to offer as well.
I’ve experienced this with writing. When I write with some outcome in mind, I enjoy it less and it usually ends up lacking any weight or potential significance. Most of the time I write just because I like to… it feels good to express something in the moment and it helps with my own self-discovery. And so usually it is satisfying. Sometimes I write to offer something of value to people. It’s okay if it doesn’t actually help a single person… it would be grandiose of me to think anyone needs any idea from me in order to live an awesome life. They don’t. But it certainly feels better when it comes from that place.
All of the greatest acts and creations in life seem to come out of a love for the act of itself, which is inherently selfless and automatically has a real, authentic power to it.
Or said much more simply and beautifully in the Tao Te Ching:
Do your work then step back—the only path to serenity.