Albert Einstein didn’t famously say “Insanity is attempting the same thing over and over expecting a different result.” It doesn’t matter who said it, but the quote did inspire me to investigate my own behaviors for any signs of insanity. I hadn’t considered myself insane, but from what I hear, insane people don’t think they’re insane either, so… there’s that.
What do I do “over and over” expecting “a different result?” Does this make me insane?
CUTTING MY OWN HAIR
I’ve had a number of barbers and stylists throughout the years, some better than others. You name it, I did it: buzz cut, bowl cut, frosted tips, mohawk, bleached, racing stripes, rat tail, mullet, Senator’s cut, the list goes on.
But my hair doesn’t matter to me. The long list of things I’m most proud about myself does not, surprisingly, include my hair. So why put in effort, or even more importantly, why spend the money?
So I cut my own hair now. Sometimes it’s not bad and people are impressed to hear I did it myself. Other times, it’s so terrible my friends are relieved to hear I didn’t pay for it. Despite all the harsh criticism, I’m not gonna cave in and pay someone to do it… besides, the next time will be better.
My dad often tells stories of his father, a military child and career general, who was always critical of his hair. It apparently annoyed my father so much, he refused to pass that onto his children. He stuck to his promise, “No matter what, I won’t give them trouble about their hair.” He hasn’t, but in retrospect, I can think of a few “styles” when maybe he should have.
I’LL HAVE THE “BEIJING BOWL”
I’m a creature of habit. In order to feel comfortable in places where I have little experience, I tend to stick to the things I know. It makes life easier.
There’s a place near work I go for lunch. It’s got a lot of options, but most of them are in Mandarin and/or Cantonese and I don’t know… it’s intimidating! I stand there in line, squinting at the menu because I forgot my glasses, searching for anything with more than three ingredients I recognize.
“I’ll have the… Beijing Bowl?”
Now don’t get me wrong, this is one of the tastiest concoctions-in-a-bowl I’ve ever had. But nothing is ever as good as it seems, and that Beijing punched it’s way out of me shortly thereafter.
We went elsewhere for lunch the next few days, but it was only a matter of time until I was back in line, squinting and struggling. When it was my turn, I just caved.
“I’ll have… the Beijing Bowl?”
Damn it! Did I really just do that? Maybe last time was just a bad recipe, I’m sure this one will be much better.
BEING NICE TO PEOPLE
“It’s hard to be a human being.”
I’m an artist, and an emotional one at that. Passion is one of my strongest weapons, and when aimed in a specific direction, I’m unstoppable. Nothing can stop me. And God help the person who crosses me when I’m not on my best.
I used to think I was the only one like this. I believed I was the most emotional person in the world when it came to everyday life, say waiting in traffic or being put on held by a telemarketer. Those things make me so crazy!
But if there’s anything I’ve learned in my limited experience as a manager at a “glorified yoga studio” is that the people you get to talk to about your problems, are rarely the ones that caused them. Everyone in my staff, including myself, has been yelled at for something they didn’t cause, had no control over, and ultimately had no ability to change whatsoever. We were verbally berated for simply being present on the other end of the line. But instead of telling them every beautifully crafted insult that came to mind, I thanked them for their feedback and wished them a good day. It stung to “let them win” but the greater impact of letting the water run under the bridge prevailed. (Hopefully) they’ll remember this and next time they’ll be nicer.
What these people need, what I need, is not to be told that I’m “an asshole” (trust me, when you’re being an asshole, you know you’re being an asshole) but rather, the opportunity to flare up and move on while causing as little damage as possible. There’s no “right way” to deal the complexities of life, but there’s certainly a number of documented “no nos.”
Some people believe the misattributed insanity quote was actually first seen in this 1981 Narcotics Anonymous Text. I’m sure the NA wasn’t referring to my particular breed of moral quandaries, so the egocentric question still stands: am I insane?
Cutting my own hair to save money, time and stress? Eating the same thing because it’s delicious and refreshing? Being kind to rude people in hopes they’ll change?
If that’s considered insane… I should rewrite this entire post.