It’s often said that the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Although attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the definition is so widely used that even the great genius himself may have usurped it elsewhere.
Nonetheless, we all do it. We all continue in the same procedures, the same management practices, the same life-style choices, the same patterns of daily life, and wonder why things always seem the same; monotonous, flat, zestless, perfunctory. Ergo, insanity. And I am just as guilty as anyone else.
So, how do we confront this irksome, repetitive monotony? Surely there are training courses and books and articles in abundance that can help us change our ways. But is it simpler than behavioral re-patterning? Is it more basic, something intrinsically connected to the human condition? This writer believes it to be so.
Our desire for sameness is a reflection of our need for safety, stability, security. Change, though also needed and usually necessary, threatens our inherent security levels and launches us into uncertainty, hinting of future instability and a relinquishing of our personal and/or corporate safety.
Change, whether it be continuous change (improvements on past ideas or inventions, like automobiles), or discontinuous change (major paradigm shifts, like smart-phones), is a natural challenge to our way of life. We need to adapt to the “new,” which implies letting go of the old. The earth is no longer flat; nor is the British Empire an empire; nor is the atom the smallest particle. Shifts in discovery and invention challenge the way we perceive our world: they change our patterns of life on an individual and global scale.
When change is disruptive of our way of life, be it for better or worse, but especially for the worst, we must adapt and challenge what comes our way. The formations of nation-states across early China and medieval Europe were bloody affairs, uprooting peoples and destroying cities and lands. The same can be said for the formation of the United States. On a personal scale the arrival of a new baby is disruptive of a way of life; so also does moving your family to a new location bring uncertainty into the formerly predictable way of living. Insanity.
This ever-changing, uncertain world makes it all the more imperative that each of us formulate a set of core beliefs and principles that are both true to reality and aligned with truth. To not have these core values in your life is to foster further instability and insecurity.
It has taken me years to construct my core values; and they still require tweaking every year of so. What about you? Are you aware of your core values? At rock bottom, what holds you together?
For what it’s worth,