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"Murphy was an optimist!"

I’m nuts! July 5, 2009 9:46 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Health, Mental
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I just flipped back in my journal to four years ago.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. –Albert Einstein

I’m certifiable.

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1. Barry - July 6, 2009

Can we put this little chestnut to rest once and for all? I’ve heard this quote a hundred times, and I don’t think it’s ever been attributed to the same person twice if at all.

But more importantly – it’s not true. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result isn’t insanity, it’s practice. Or, if you’re a performer, it’s rehearsal.

When one is attempting a difficult task that is unfamiliar, the first time or two you try you will likely fail – or at least, succeed in a very limited manner. Do we quit? Do you give up, lest we be labeled “insane” for doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result? No! We try again.

If I’m a baseball player and I want to become a better hitter, I practice. I figure out ways to improve my technique, and I take endless batting practice. I eventually find ways to apply that new technique, and hit more home runs.

If I’m a professional pianist, I look at an unfamiliar piece and start in. It may be very difficult and with multiple hours of practice I may be frustrated. But repeatedly applying myself practicing and practicing, it may pay off with a beautifully rendered concerto.

And the examples are endless. If you at first fail at something but don’t keep trying because you think it’s hopeless – that’s the real fail. Keep up with the effort, continue striving. Eventually you’ll succeed. Nothing insane about that.

2. Doug McCaughan - July 6, 2009

I’ve heard it attributed to so many different people too. I searched before posting that one and multiple sources try to debunk Ben Franklin et al and give attribution to Einstein. I didn’t link to any of those because although quantity of posts seemed to give credit to Einstein, none of them seems authoritative.

I like your practice/rehearsal example. You do know I meant this post humorously right?

3. Barry - July 7, 2009

Sure, but a lot of times I hear people use it as an excuse, or a cop-out.

4. Doug McCaughan - July 7, 2009

And by the way, your comment did strike a chord! I don’t think I’ll be using that insanity quote anymore.


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