Insanity: A New Definition

Published on April 5, 2014 by

You know the classic defintion of insanity:  "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -Albert Einstein

However, I think Einstein missed something important. I think we do something else that is more "insane" than what he pointed out. In a nutshell:

  • We do something that gets results for us.
  • We fail to notice what worked, nurture it and keep it up.

In my former life as a psychotherapist and now, in my years of coaching, consulting and training, I've noticed something about positive behavior, postive change and transformation. That is, it's easy for many of us  (as individuals or organizations) to engage in a positive behavior, create some level of positive change or transformation and then we :

1) Fail to notice what we did; or it barely gets our attention. 

2) Fail to give ourselves credit for what we did.

3) Give our power away by crediting others for what we did. ("My coach changed my life." Really? I play a significant role in my client's transformation, but I certainly don't do the work for them.)

4) Dismiss what we did. ("That was a fluke, I can't keep it up." "That was no big deal, anyone could do it.")

5) Forget what we did. (We notice what we did, but then forget about it and therefore don't keep it up.)

Many of us notice what we do "wrong" far more often than we notice what we do "right." That, by the way, is another form of insanity.

We also overthink our mistakes and failures. When something isn't going well, we ask, "Why is this happening?" We analyze what's wrong to death, so to speak. That is another form of insanity.

What if we paid far more attention to what is going well (even if it seems small and sporadic) and give that our full attention? What if we asked ourselves, "How did I do that?"

In my book, "Seven Secrets to Enlightened Happiness, I point out what we all know: What we focus on tends to get repeated. If we want to avoid the New Definition of Insanity (Doing what works and failing to notice it, nurture it and keep it up.) we need to make a big deal out of the fact that we did something that worked and then do it again. "Rinse and Repeat."

Forget about your mistakes and failures. Okay, learn from them first; then keep the lessons and then forget to get upset about them.

Focus on what you do that works, even in a small way. Allow yourself to feel good about doing something that worked. Honor yourself, give yourself credit and feel good about yourself for doing what worked. Instead of minimizing what you did or forgetting you did it, recognize and reward yourself and then remember what you did. Simply "rinse and repeat."

If you want to learn more about this and master how to focus on what you do right, what is right about you, and how to repeat more of what works in your life, get my book today on at:

Book Review by Roxane Hettinger:

I have read, literally, hundreds of self help books and I have a Masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, so trust me when I say, this little book sums everything up in a succinct version of how to LIVE a happier life. Alan has taken complex theories and reduced them to steps, EVERYONE can manage in order to get their life under their own control. I was moved, inspired and encouraged to add this to my own personal, "hour of power." If you want to get down to the nuts and bolts of how to live a happy life, skip all those long and boring self help books and read this book alone. It will save you time and perhaps even save your life. You can finish it in one setting. I encourage you, as does the author, to read it many times. Action is one of the steps in this book, take action now, read this book.