This micro change started out the best of them all! Because when I began — so casually it could easily have been missed — it was unplanned.
Week 7 of My Year of Micro Experiments began with a comment from my friend Mike Cohen — founder of the neurofeedback Center For Brain Training.
We go to breakfast once or twice a week. This time Mike had to leave early after a fast meal to go save another brain. Just before he departed, he saw me loading up on artificial sweetener again, as is my wont with my ice tea in the mornings.
And do I ever like my ice tea — two to three glasses. Meaning two to three packets of this chemical compound straight not out of nature.
Mike: “I hope you switch to stevia someday. It’s so much better for your brain — and your gut biome.”
Me: “Yeah, I know, but I’ve tried it and didn’t like the taste. Especially the aftertaste.”
Mike: “There are a number of varieties, why don’t you try some others?”
That was it. An expression of concern for my health — my mental health! — from someone in the mental health field.
After he left I glanced over at the sweetener tray — Stevia In The Raw — couldn’t believe it was there — hadn’t noticed stevia as an option in the diners and breakfast places I frequented.
So I tried it.
It wasn’t so bad. Less sweet than the artificial sweeteners, which I had to carefully aportion to not over sweeten. FAR less sweet than sweet tea, which, God, how did I ever drink that dreck in my overspent youth–
Here’s the thing about micro experiments. Once you get on this path, your mind opens up to micro change.
Knowing you can ditch it after a short while let’s you off the hook — the main obstacle to so much we wish to change is the heavy thought, “For the rest of my life?! For eternity??”
Why even try?
But for a week? That seems so inconsequential. So little effort. Especially after engaging weeks of sequential small changes.
In this case with stevia, I wasn’t even thinking a few days, I was thinking, I’ll try this now, the packet is here.
Later at home I mentioned to Ann the stevia I’d tried didn’t really suck. She opened a cabinet and pulled out some packets of Truvia, another stevia variant.
Ann: “Why not try these?”
Me: “Whoa. How did you happen to have these here?”
Ann, sly smile: “I’ve been hoping for a couple of years you might try these at some point.”
She too had hoped to quell my artificial sweetener jones….
In my backpack they went — it’s my mobile office, going with me everywhere I go.
Next day, tried ‘em and haven’t gone back. There’s a slight taste adjustment, but not like when I gave up Mountain Dew almost two years prior.
Even still, I wasn’t imagining that switching to stevia would become a tweak of the week, not till Day 3. Then it was, why not?
Writing this many weeks later affords some powerful hindsight. In this case stevia has become part of my life. Once or twice in the intervening weeks I ran out of the stevia packets in my backpack — and found myself pining for it when sugar and artificial sweeteners were the only items at hand.
When I committed to a year of micro experiments I didn’t realize how much it would loosen up strongly-held patterns. Everything was on the table. If it was a small change, why not?
My routines became more malleable in the light of micro experiments. Never would I be attempting something dramatic — to the contrary, because each change by definition had to be small scale, it became playful.
And once playing this weekly micro-change game, my mind scanned for opportunities for incremental betterment.
The upside has been a surprising willingness to let my curiosity take me where it wants.