One Timeless Tip That Can Make Your Life a Whole Lot Easier

“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction”

This quote comes from the ancient Sanskrit Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita and every time I look at it I feel a sort of freedom and relief. There is a certain lightness to it.

What does it mean? Well, this is just my interpretation and frankly I think that it's a bit hard to explain. But I'll give it a try because it's been helpful for me.

This quote tells me to understand that I cannot control the results of my action. I can't control how someone reacts to what I say or what I do. And that I should do what I do just because it is something I want to do rather than because of some outcome I'd like. But at the same time I should not let these two ideas lead me to become passive and get stuck in sitting on my hands and not taking action at all.

Basically, I do what I think is right and that is my responsibility. And then the rest (the possible results), well, that is not up for me to decide about or try to control. I let it go.

What are the upsides of using this in your life?

You become more stable in yourself. You stop grasping all the time for what people think and feel about you. You become less needy. One obvious side-effect of this can be better social interactions. When you stop caring so much about what people may think of you then you relax and say what you want to say instead of trying to protect some image you want to uphold. You become more authentic.

  • You focus on the process. I for instance use this when I workout. I don't take responsibility for the results in my mind. I take responsibility for showing up and doing my workout. The results come anyway from that consistent action. And this makes it easier for me to take this action when I know that is all I need to focus on. Instead of using half of the energy and focus I have available on hoping that I “reach my goal real, real soon”. Focus on the process and you will be a lot more relaxed and prone to continue than if you stare yourself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as you want to and puts you on an emotional rollercoaster from day to day.
  • It brings more enjoyment out of the doing. Because now your focus is just on the doing and not split between the doing and the potential results.
    You become less tired. You don't grasp emotionally for some desired result. And so you don't use so much energy for worrying etc. It's energy efficient.

You can switch between mindsets. I like to play around with them. Sometimes you plan and review where you going and how things are going. But most of the time you just focus on the process, on doing what you do instead focusing on those fruits.

This may sound boring or like you zap all the excitement out of it. But in my experience it makes it easier to get things done. Action is taken with less effort, over thinking and mind made suffering within.

Just like being present this isn't easy to keep up for longer periods. So you have to plug away and work at it like any other habit.

When you can slip into this mindset life becomes a lot easier. Because you are detached while doing. You are centered in yourself and taking relaxed and calm action. You feel free from many of the emotional chains you have built up in yourself over the years. You are not carrying around a world of things you could never control anyway on your shoulders. You feel kinda light and liberated.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alexander

    Great article, I think what your doing is amazing. Everybody needs constant reminders to stay positive and keep on track. I like the idea of being in the present moment, not worrying about outcomes and becoming more relaxed. I could see this helping to overcome procrastination, helping in performance in all areas of your life, like trying to meet people. If you focus less on the result you tend to enjoy yourself and the moment more. Great :)

  • Amy Liu

    Hello Henrik,

    This is my first time reading your blog (I think I heard about it on a Office Arrow podcast a couple of days ago). Just thought I’d tell you that I really enjoyed your article. It came at a right time when I’m doing some very boring work for a very uncertain outcome.

    Thanks for the insight. Keep up the good job! Take care.

  • I agree with you about just letting go and to stop worrying about how everyone else is reacting to your decisions and etc.
    Great post

  • Diane

    I agree with this one completely; I find that if I focus too much on what I’m hoping to accomplish with something, I often forget:
    a) why I’m doing it in the first place
    B) that sometimes it’s the journey and not just the destination
    Thank you for publishing this one; it was a pertinent reminder to slow down and don’t tire yourself out.

  • Hi Henrik,

    By knowing that we have no control in some things in life, we are able to reduce the stress of thinking what others will think of our decision. Great article!

    Personal Development Blogger

  • mini

    this really lists the essence of life
    it is said work is worship
    the real meaning of quote listed in beginning is:
    “karma is your dharma”
    that translates sumthing like this:
    work is a religion
    n wen u pray whole heartedly you are not expecting something in return!
    n that is what u need
    to work wholeheartedly without tensing up about the results

  • Hi Henrik,

    This is awesome! You remind us that we should focus more on the process instead of worrying about the result or the lack of it to free ourselves from the stress and frustration.

    The key is to enjoy the process and know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

    However, I think it’s hard for people who hate their job to put this to good use because when you hate what you are doing, the process can be intolerable and the more you focus on what you’re doing (job), the more frustrated you become.

    What ya think?



  • Anonymous

    Dear Henrik, thanks by the remind for the NOW.

    Great wishes for an useful weekend to all of u.


  • really Creative Henrik

    not long back ago, The same thing (not that detailed as u thankfully mentioned here) were told to me by my professor

    “Do what you have to do , don’t waste your time or get too emotionally attached about he result . the results isn’t in your hand , its in the God’s hand … so do what you have to do & that’s I T”.

    Well , i think believing in this is one of the most productive methods in killing the badly habit of Procrastination.

    Thanks again for this article
    God Bless

    Saidely M./ Iraq

  • I just discovered your blog and am very glad I did. This is such a well-timed post for me. I’ve been pondering the issue of control, how much we all wish we had more control over our lives, and how little in life we really do control.

    All we can control are our own actions and our own attitudes, we can’t control how others will respond to us, whether they will understand our meaning or motives, or what actions they will take. It starts with us.

    What a great reminder to just live in a manner that is true to yourself and your values. Not to focus on “will they like me” but taking actions consistent with what you like about yourself.

  • Just the process of doing something makes taking action easier and easier. I used to worry about what I’m going to write about when I run out of ideas – I thought I’d probably only be able to come up with about 6 or 7 posts – but ideas are coming at me so fast that it’s hard to keep up with them. The upside is I have so many ideas recorded that I can always come back to them and have something to write about.

  • Denise

    Awesome post! Practical and really useful. :)

  • Nigel B

    Thanks Henrik

    I like the idea of enjoying the process for its own sake. It chimes with living in the moment and acceptance.

    That said, I think having clear goals, and a direction, is important too.

    How do you reconcile these two potentially disparate viewpoints?

    Keep up the good work.

    Best wishes
    Nige B

  • anon

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  • Thanks for all the comments, guys! :)

    @ Mark Foo: Focusing on the process and just showing up and doing what you do can make it more enjoyable. But if someone really hates the job then then they probably need to change it at some point because this only goes so far.

    @ Nigel: I switch between them. I plan and review regularly but when I execute I try to do as described in this post.