If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
[NOTE: Archive from an old blog originally published on June 26th, 2013.]
Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but I think that if I were ever commissioned to write such a thing, I would have to devote a prominent chapter to one simple golden rule.
It would either have to go right at the very beginning, or right at the very end, and act as some sort of stipulation attached to all other rules and words of wisdom.
That golden rule would be this:
Do what works, abandon what doesn’t.
When you look at it like that it seems so obvious, so simple a concept that it shouldn’t even need to be stated.
If you always do what you’ve always done, think what you’ve always thought, say what you’ve always said or go where you’ve always gone, you will get the exact same results time and time again.
To expect otherwise is a form of outright insanity.
Of course it is, at least it wouldn’t be if it didn’t lie almost completely at odds with another universal truth:
Old habits die hard.
Take, for example, my own habit of cutting myself from the outside world and losing myself in my work. Much experience has taught me that if I spend too long on my own, my head is going to turn against me, sundry social fears I thought long since conquered will begin to surface, and I’ll probably become bitter, cynical and probably drunk.
None of those things are particularly enjoyable, not even the drunk part.
Most days, I enjoy peace of mind, my social fears have subsided and I am sober and happy and full of optimism. Yet this is only because, as best I can, I practice the opposite of all the things I used to do, at least the ones that would lead me down that dark little road towards isolation.
Then I’ll miss an opportunity to visit friends because I genuinely have somewhere else I need to be, and before long I’m convincing myself that everything’s OK, that my own company is all I need.
Slowly but surely, I start to cut off again.
It’s an old habit. A habit deeply embedded in the fabric of being for as long as I care to remember. The little bastard will not go easily.
But at least I’m able to see that these days.
At least I know that if I do this, if I shut off and isolate and become so emerged in my work that nothing else seems to exist in the universe, the bad things will happen. They’ll happen because they’ve always happened when I’ve done these things.
So I need to do something different. I need to do the opposite.
And if it works, great. I will keep doing it.
If not, I will do something else and steer myself away from insanity.