It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The definition is usually attributed to Albert Einstein, but he was too smart to have said that.
Set aside that insanity is actually a legal term, referring to a defendant’s inability to determine right from wrong in the context of a crime.
I find the definition vaguely annoying, because doing the same thing over and over is often the best way to get a different result.
When faced with a seemingly intractable problem there may not appear to be any options. Sure, change the variables if you can, but it may not be clear what to change or how to change it.
When you repeat a thing over and over, it is a cosmic truth that things will change. You cannot step in the same river twice. Ineluctably following the law of entropy, every physical context is constantly changing, if only a little. Your attention is like the application of heat, the primal dynamic force.
When you repeat a thing over and over, you change, especially when you fail. ‘”I am hurt but I am not slain. I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile, then I’ll rise and fight again.” (Andrew Barton) Stronger, clearer.
When it comes to mundane problems, sure, stop repeating yourself, pick another prefabricated option. Not so for interesting problems. “If your mind is truly, profoundly stuck, then it might be much better off than when it was loaded with ideas” (Robert Pirsig).
Do the same thing over and over, expect different results, watch the cosmos answer; this defines a rare brand of sanity.