It’s a well-known fact that your emotional attitude usually has far more to do with producing fatigue than does physical exertion. Joseph E. Barmack, Ph.D., published in the Archives of Psychology a report of some of his experiments showing how boredom produces fatigue.
Dr. Barmack put a group of students through a series of tests in which he knew they could have little interest. The result was the students felt tired and sleepy, complained of headaches and eyestrain, and felt irritable. In some cases, even their stomachs were upset. To prove the results were not a product of their imagination, metabolism tests were taken of these students. The tests showed that the blood pressure of the body and the consumption of oxygen actually decrease when a person is bored, and that the whole metabolism picks up immediately as soon as he or she begins to feel interest and pleasure in the work.
When Dr. Edward Thorndike of Columbia was conducting experiments in fatigue, he kept young men awake for almost a week by keeping them constantly interested. After much investigation, Dr. Thorndike is reported to have said: “Boredom is the only real cause of diminution of work.”
The lesson to be learned here is simple: our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration, and resentment. Dale Carnegie once told the story of a stenographer who worked for an oil company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her daily tasks were so boring that she resolved to make it interesting by having a daily contest with herself. She counted the number of forms she filled out each morning, and then tried to excel that record in the afternoon. She counted each day’s total and tried to better it the next day. Soon she was able to fill out more of these dull printed forms than any other stenographer in her division.
Her efforts didn’t win her praise or a promotion, nor did they earn her any more money. What it did do, however, is help prevent the fatigue that is spawned by boredom. It gave her a mental stimulant. Because she had done her best to make a dull job interesting, she had more energy, more zest, and got far more happiness out of her leisure hours.
And Dale Carnegie knew for certain that story is true, because he married that girl!
Remember—keep reminding yourself that getting interested in your job will take your mind off your worries, and, in the long run, will probably bring promotion and increased pay. And even if it doesn’t do that, it will reduce fatigue to a minimum and help you enjoy your hours of leisure.
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