What does non-attachment to results really mean

I am a firm believer in acting according to self-defined values, without attachment to results. In my mind, that’s the definition of being authentic. While this is a great ideal, the elephant in the room is ego. I’m a bit torn here because the arm-chair-philosopher in me wants to say pride always leads to needless suffering. On the other side, I see how pride drives people to achieve, especially in the face of insurmountable odds. A good example is Steve Jobs, who accomplished a lot, at least in part due to his narcissistic personality.

As an idealist, I am not naïve enough to think we can ever extinguish ego. We are all imperfect people, and we will always crave recognition. That’s just a fact. So I think the bigger question to ask is: how are the results obtained? While very crude, I think the most applicable analogy I came across recently is the difference between hooking up and marriage. Both appear to lead to the same results, but only one has scientifically proven to give lasting joy; that is if done patiently, with the right person.

I’m not sure if I’ll answer the question entirely, but I think the main takeaway for me is that there is nothing wrong with desiring results. When I think about non-attachment to results, it’s not so much ignoring them altogether as a checkpoint to better understand what it is that my actions may produce so that I can further refine them to match my intent. And when the result doesn’t come as fast as I expect, I’ll ask myself if I’m building a foundation for a future marriage, or just looking for instant gratification.

So how about you? What does non-attachment to results mean to you?


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