You might not realize that self-satisfaction can take different forms. Looking at it from a technical standpoint, you've helped to execute a well-choreographed aerial dance routine. Following your incident commander's instructions, you've flown your aircraft into poor-visibility conditions, carefully watching for other planes and helicopters around you. At just the right moment, you've dropped your load of water or retardant on the fire, calculating the effects of the wind and your airplane's velocity on the load's impact point. Finally, wonder of wonders, your efforts helped to knock the fire down so the ground crews could begin to surround it. You'd pat yourself on the back if you could, but the tanker's cockpit is pretty tight.
Perhaps you'd like some warm fuzzies along with your technical “atta-boys” or “atta-girls.” In that case, think about the homes you've helped to save, perhaps owned by people who couldn't afford to rebuild their houses or replace their possessions. Think about the farmer's livestock that survived because your team and the ground crew kept the fire away from the barn. Remember the small town on the verge of being wiped out when the aerial and ground teams beat the fire back behind the fire line. Although you're certainly not guaranteed those successful outcomes, they help to compensate for the firefighting efforts that didn't turn out so well.