The best way to improve any skill at all is to repeat it. Keep at it. Over and over.
Repetition offers you an opportunity to build on an existing tangible or intangible thing. It tends to be an action such as writing or painting; altering or creating a habit like no longer chewing on your fingernails or setting a time for daily reading; improving a skill, like practicing knife work cutting vegetables or using a dip pen and learning a calligraphy font; repeating a mantra or affirmation to drill a new belief into your subconscious.
In these ways, repetition is intentional and serves a definite purpose. You know what you are acting upon to have/do/be/create and so on.
However, repetition can sometimes go off the rails. Before you know it, you’re repeating the same thing over and over — that never works. And that way lies insanity.
What does this mean? Allow me to share the following quote attributed (rightly or wrongly) to Albert Einstein:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
In other words, repetition goes off the rails. Instead of building or improving on new skills, habits, ideas, or what-have-you — you’re beating the proverbial dead horse.
How do you know if your repetition has reached this point? The best way to identify this is via mindfulness.
Be mindful of your what, why, and how
When you read these words, eat the cookie, smell the fresh-cut grass, touch the soft fabric, hear the cat purr, or otherwise process input — you alone perceive it. Your perception of the Universe is unique to you. This goes into mindfulness.
Mindfulness, however, is the willful recognition of that input.
What does that mean? Let’s say you’re in a rush and eating a protein bar as you head out the door. You probably get a vague sense that there is a flavor to it — but it’s not something you savor or pay much attention to.