Making Change Sweeter: How to Find the Sweet Spot

Making Change Sweeter: How to Find the Sweet Spot

In their Transtheoretical Model, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClimente identify five stages in the process of change. Basically, you have pre-change, a beginning, middle and an end or continuance.

When it comes to change, different people have more or less difficulty and find change harder or easier at different steps along the way. For some people, it is in recognizing the need for change. For others, acceptance. Still others, understanding and learning what they need to know about change and the specific changes they desire to make. Still for others, it’s motivating themselves and getting moving. And others, sustaining change and following through.

To learn more on those important topics and issues, please consult Messrs. Prochaska and DiClimente. What I want to show you is something different.

I want to show you the sweet spot in making change.

You can find the Sweet Spot at any step, at any point, and at any stage along the way. It is not stage dependent. In a way, it is effort and progress dependent, but first and foremost, the Sweet Spot is awareness dependent.

The Sweet Spot is not matter of doing, it is rather, a matter of being. This is a rest and digest moment. It is discovered, experienced and enjoyed amid unfolding change by pausing and creating a break in the action. By stopping, so to speak, and leaning on one’s shovel. Of course, this is where our mindfulness practice comes in.

So here is the recipe for making one such moment:

1. Breathe

2. Stop and Look, Listen, Smell, Touch and Taste

3. Notice, Recognize and Acknowledge

4. Appreciate

5. Absorb

Then resume action and roll.

So, try it. Right now. While reading this article. Or after taking a bite and chewing, or after a sip of tea or coffee. It is all about experiencing and pausing to savor and delight.

1. First, Breathe.

Practicing Awareness of the Breath helps to sharpen our focus and be present and more fully engaged both in the moment and to what we are experiencing.

2. Next, stop during some action you’re involved in and engage all your senses.

3. Next, notice, recognize and acknowledge.

We bring your sixth sense, mindful awareness, and simply allow yourself to notice whatever is there and experience it as it is, just as it is. You need not analyze or evaluate. Simply notice, recognize and acknowledge.

4. Next, appreciate.

This where the savor and delight comes in. We let ourselves taste and enjoy.

5. Finally, drink it in.

Absorb it. Allowing it to really register. Enjoy the sweetness, the beauty, the clarity, the calm, the sense of peace. Continue breathing. Let it sink in and soak in like a good rain, or the warmth of the sun on your face with eyes closed. Soak it up like a sponge. Absorb it like you want to make it last for as long you can and as if you wanted to remember it for the rest of your life. Let the experience imprint and impress itself upon you. Pause and park yourself like you were enjoying a sunset, or eating lunch by the bay.

Every step and stage along the journey and way has its own particular sweetness. Setting Up. Starting. Enjoying the process. Watching it unfold and come together. Noticing, appreciating and enjoying improvement and progress along the way. Completion. Looking back at what you have done and accomplished. Even the Setbacks. You will miss it if you do not take the time to pause, breathe and look, listen, smell, touch and taste.

What we bring to the practice and experience, of course, makes a difference. From the store of your Better Self I suggest you bring along and employ:

· Patience

· Non-striving

· Curiosity

· Wonder and Delight

· Gratitude

· Playfulness

Non-striving is really important. Try not to force it or rush it. Relax and let it unfold, even the work as you continue and roll.

Practiced well and periodically, I guarantee it will imrpove how you go about making change and go about making things happen. It will even improve how you go about doing tasks, your work, your play, your day, your life. You will have more joy. It can make change and effort pleasant and pleasing rather than a duty and a drudgery. Go Well.


David AgeeDavid Agee, LMSW, is a therapist at the Pine Rest Traverse City Clinic and is providing teletherapy during the pandemic.

He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Detroit, an MDiv at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. and an MSW from Grand Valley State University.

As a therapist, David is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, narrative therapy, motivational interviewing, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, and mindfulness based cognitive therapy.

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