Perseverance is the sweet spot

As I prepared to write this column, I searched for a quote attributed to?but probably wasn?t from?Albert Einstein regarding insanity. The quote goes like this: ?Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.?

It?s quite a catchy phrase. And I was all set to make a cute little connection between my hair-growth cycle and that particular quote.

You see, every fall I start to grow my hair long. And every spring I cut it back off.

The thought process goes like this: ?Self,? I say, ?you?re getting older. And you probably can?t wear your hair long when you are old. So you should grow it out now while you can.?

So I set to watching it grow.

Through the winter I think, ?Wow…it?s getting so long! Way to go, self!?

It gets longer and longer. And then one day, I look in the mirror and I no longer look fair. I look tired and worn. It?s like the added length accentuates dark under-eye circles and wrinkles. It pulls my face so far south that my naturally narrow, oval face shape becomes a line. The longer my hair gets, the more tired I look.

So, by spring I start browsing Pinterest for short, curly haircuts. I text examples to my mom and sisters. I ask friends for advice: should I, or shouldn?t I? To cut or not to cut?

All the while, I tell myself I don?t know what I will do. Keep it long and add layers? Go with a middle length? Chop it to the chin? Maybe some rainbow highlights?

OK, chop it to the chin.

Tuesday I made the cut. Again.

And I don?t regret it. Not really. Because my head is 10 pounds lighter, and my face lost some of its long horse-like and exhausted look.

I go through the same cycle?which I plan to break this year by keeping my hair at its sweet spot mid-neck to shoulder?every year, expecting the result to be different. And that?s where I wanted to tie in the little quote.

But then I found an article on psychologytoday.com that explained the simplicity of this quote. And where the brain is concerned, I?m learning that it?s never good to be simple-minded.

Ryan Howes, the author of the article, ?The Defini?tion of Insanity is? Perse?ver?ance vs. Perseveration,? states that insanity is primarily a legal term. ?Insanity is a concept discussed in court to help distinguish guilt from innocence…there?s no ?insane? diagnosis,? Howes said.

So taking a cute saying at face value can be dangerous. For instance, Howes said he hears clients use the insanity quote as a means of avoidance?basically as an excuse?not to do something beneficial.

As I?ve journeyed out of long-seeded depression, I?ve had to work hard. I?ve been privileged to experience genuine perseverance in the past few years, as opposed to grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it disguised as the real thing. It?s a cheap imitation at best.

?Bearing it? doesn?t solve anything.

Perseverance does. And, it produces character, which in turn produces hope.

?Perseverance feels like striving toward a noble goal, and whether or not it?s reached, there is virtue in the effort,? Howes said.

Malinda Just has been writing her column for the Free Press since 2008. she can be reached at malinda@justs.org.