It was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as the act of doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. I think he may have been onto something.
Too often, we live our lives as though we're auditioning for the next installment of "Groundhog Day," never breaking from our routines, constantly perfecting our habits.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m guilty as charged. I seem to make my mistakes a solid five or six times, just to be sure. Not always a case of repeating failure, this quote seems to hit a deeper level than that.
Imagine you lived one completely perfect day. From dusk to dawn, every minute sublime. You wake up the next morning and go through every motion just the same, living out another seamless 24 hours, and again, the day after that.
At some point, I think I might stop to wonder, could there be more? What might I be missing?
I don’t believe that insanity is reserved only for those who operate in error, but more so a threat to all of us who move almost mechanically throughout our lives, never indulging the urge to peek behind the curtain.
I resent the idea that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” because this is essentially just a call to conformity. This tells us to stick to the blueprint, color in the lines, follow the footsteps of those before you and tread lightly. Screw that.
Why live at all if only to repeat each day? My life so far has been a series of ups and downs, a rollercoaster of sorts. I have seen my share of highs and lows and remember them all vividly.
What I fail to recall in great detail, however, are the static moments. Those times when things were neither here nor there, and life was seemingly “fine.”
When it comes to relationships, it sometimes feels as though I’ve experienced the same one time and again, and only the faces and names change.
I lived out the same first date, the same first argument, the same first vacation and the very same last “talk” over and over, always wondering where it all went wrong and what I could have done differently.
What I should have wondered is why I chose to do everything the same way.
I’ve mentioned in previous articles how it often helps to look back in order to successfully move forward. This was one of those times.
I started to go a little cross-eyed thinking over all of the same motions I mindlessly went through with each relationship. I suppose in some way, I was trying to replicate the happier moments of the past.
At no point can I honestly say I stopped to reflect on how my refusing to take any chances and make any changes might be impacting things. With the best intentions, I took the tried and not-so-true approach to things, thinking that the same action with a different subject might, in turn, present me with a different result.
Not to get too Bill Nye on you, but that equation is heavily flawed because it leaves the result entirely up to the one variable over which you have no control: the other person.
Nowadays, I try to keep Einstein’s words in the corner of my mind at all times. You may not experience a perfect day every time; you may try something new and fail miserably; you may do something differently and land an epic failure in your lap.
Taking chances and mixing up the math will not always yield the “right” answer, but neither will re-writing the wrong one, over and again.
In the credits to the book of my life, I will acknowledge both my gains and my losses because both contributed to filling the pages. The highs and lows make this whole trip worthwhile. So, mix it up.