Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment. – Dale Carnegie
What does that mean?
To me it speaks of the true causes of fatigue or energy drags in my life. It probably is similar to at least some of the energy drags in your life. Any time I worry, I become fatigued. The more I worry, the more run down I become. Same with frustration and resentment. Together, they probably account for the bulk of my energy drain on any given week.
Conversely, when I work, either with my mind or in physically demanding labor, I finish refreshed, not fatigued. Fatigue has become a sign to me that I am doing something wrong. Note that I differentiate between being tired and fatigued. Tired is energy expended, fatigued is energy misspent.
This saying also has, hidden within it, it’s opposite path. To me, the opposite of worry, frustration and resentment is contentment.
Why is contentment important?
If you aren’t content, what are you, and why do you want to be there? Yes, I can see being “hungry” for something as motivation, but you can be content and still be motivated. To me, content doesn’t mean sit on your bottom and do nothing, as everything you want has been accomplished. To me, that is sloth. My point is that you can be motivated and be without worry, be without frustration and be without resentment.
Would worrying about anything make your life better? Would being frustrated help you perform better? Would being full of resentment at people, places, events or life in general help make your life better? Perhaps, for a brief moment, while throwing yourself a “pity party,” these might be appropriate as transient emotions. But it’s not a place to live. Live contented with what you have and with hunger for what you aspire to do. That is how I try to live my life. How about you?
Where can I apply this in my life?
I try to live as far away from those draining emotions as I can. However, there is always some level of worry in my life. So how does one get rid of worry? I tend to find that worry is usually related to uncertainty. So to counter worry, I try to be more certain about things.
If there is an activity my kids want to do and it worries me, I find out more about it. Where is the source of the worry? Is it a physical risk, is there some kind of danger? Is there concern that they are going somewhere away from parental supervision? Then I check it out. I find out more. I visit or call ahead and confirm what the deal is.
If it is worry about something in my life, I probably already did all the research and checking that is possible, so I know it’s just me. Case in point, asking my wife to marry me. I’d done the research, she had already started dropping hints. I knew the answer before I asked the question. It’s probably the only way I would have asked the question.
So if I’m worried, I have to convince myself that I have done all the homework, done all the legwork and have prepared as much as is humanly possible. After that, it is out of my hands. It is no more likely to happen if I worry than if I do not worry, so I try to convince myself that worrying is neither useful nor necessary. Sometimes, I even succeed, but most of the time, I can keep it to a minimum.
How about you, what do you worry about and how do deal with it? If you aren’t having a lot of luck with taming the worry-monster, grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Label the paper “the worry list” and write down everything you are presently worried about and a scale, 1-10, for the level of the worry. Worries about your favorite sports teams (unless that’s part of your livelihood) should probably be closer to 1 than to 10. Food & shelter based worries are probably at the 10 mark.
Take a look at each and try to figure what would have to happen to make you less worried, or even stop worrying about the topic. After you’ve run through the list, see if there is a pattern. For me, it was lack of knowledge & lack of preparation – those were the two biggest sources of worry.
Once you have an idea what is at the root of your worry (and it may be more than one thing – mine was two major sources), it’s time to brainstorm. On the back of the paper, write a list of all the things you can do to stop that root cause. For me, it was uncertainty and unpreparedness, so research and diligence were the cures. You will need to find your own.
Now figure out how to make these new ideas part of how you operate, so that it becomes part of your daily routine. Once you have leveled out on worry, do the exercise again. What’s missing from your present worry-proof plan? Is there another cause of worry, or are there some gaps in your plan? Upgrade, update, and get back at it. Does that make sense? How much effort are you willing to put in to reduce your level of worry, your level of fatigue?
Now, for extra credit, make a frustration list and a resentment list and fill them out. See if you can find the pattern. If you can’t, or there are just a few events listed, keep the list handy and add to them as new events occur. Once you’ve detected a pattern, a common issue that causes frustration or resentment, you can start to work to cut it off at the source, or at least diminish it’s power over you.
Once you have a handle on these negative, unproductive feeling, I hope that you can begin to feel more contentment and less fatigue.