The Change Exercise

On my personal blog, I wrote a post about learning to stem a strawberry with a straw. It was a hack that my young daughter taught me and even though I’m quite habituated to using a knife to core a strawberry, I attempted this new method for the fun of it.

In the process, I was thinking of quote from Andrew Cohen, “Everybody wants to get enlightened but nobody wants to change.” And I was bowled over by the insight, if I resist changing everything that I think I know how to do, how will I ever recognize the one thing I might need for transformation? Perhaps what keeps us from change is just that we think we’ll be able to know/determine/predict what it is that we need to change.

Instead we can cultivate an openness to doing things differently.

About a week after that insight, the pencil eraser mouse on my laptop (see picture below) that I’m fond of using got a rip in it and became unusable. I have a replacement somewhere but once I had small children, I put that replacement in a “safe” place never to be found again along with about 100 other things… 😊

My choices: 1) tear my house apart, 2) figure out what that mouse is really called, order it and probably pay more for shipping than it’s worth, or 3) learn to use my laptop’s built-in track pad mouse effectively.

None of those seemingly will bring me enlightenment. But given my recent insight, I thought learning a new way to navigate my computer could help build new neurological circuitry. In fact, when I went to play my morning brain trainer game on Lumosity, I found that for a game that required matching shapes, I went from being able to clear about 60 in a minute to only clearing 38 in a minute when I started mousing with my track pad. But I’ve kept at it and in about 7-10 days got back to my previous level.

So what’s the point? UC Berkeley professor and researcher Alison Gopnik likens the circuitry of the adult brain to boulevards – fewer streets but we with higher speed limits we use to get someplace quickly. By contrast, she describes the neural pathways of kids brains to the streets of old Paris – many more of them that wind all around.

Perhaps it’s hard to become enlightened as a grown-up because we are on the wrong street and we bypassed the turn-off long ago. If we want to create the conditions for change, perhaps we need to travel on some side streets now and again.

How about you – what have you changed lately? Have you become or noticed someone who became enlightened? What did you/they do to get there? Do you know what the mouse in the middle of a Thinkpad laptop is called?

For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at or follow me on Instagram @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)

17 thoughts on “The Change Exercise

  1. My paradigm allows for paradigm change, but I am an exponential odd ball. My instinct looks for differences in everything that it knows and I trust instinct on a high level.
    I played a lot of basketball, including street ball, and at any time others on the court, including those on your team, can do something unexpected, at which time you have a choice with respect thereto. The best choice is to adjust your path, even if it is a different path than what you were walking.

    1. I love your statement that your instinct looks for differences in everything that it knows and that you trust that instinct. Doing the unexpected seems to have great results – in our brains and on the basketball court. Thanks for adding this example – it’s great!

      1. Agreed: it’s a little like what Victor Hugo said “Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”?

        BTW, as convenient as they are (and they are convenient), I was advised from an ergonomics perspective to use an external mouse for any prolonged usage 🙂

      2. Oh, EW, you have the best quotes and you are so awesome to share them.

        That’s interesting about the ergonomics of the mouse. Maybe we open up our shoulders more if we move the mousing hand to an external position?

        You are so good at making me think. I love that!

  2. First may I say that I had no idea there was such a thing as an eraser in the middle of a keypad. How enlightening! Speaking of which, I found the following on FB the other day—author unknown. At first glance it sounds depressing, but upon greater contemplation, it really is freeing, and defines enlightenment in a way that I’ve never heard before:

    Make no mistake about it.
    Enlightenment is a destructive process.
    It has nothing to do with becoming perfect or being happier.

    Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth.
    It’s seeing through the façade of pretense.

    If I had an eraser on my keypad, I’d use it to erase all of the pretense that keeps me from seeing the truth.

    1. Oh Julia what an interesting definition. I love the “I’d use it to erase all the pretense that keeps me from seeing the truth.” Wowsa – that’s powerful! Thanks for adding it to this post, it’s so relevant!

  3. I had a recent awakening with a major sense of accomplishment organizing my photo and video storage all in one place! This is something I’ve wanted for years. It also involved videos of my kids when they were little from my camcorder circa 1999, iMemories downloading, google photo storage increased (saving 7$ a month), and the final step which was the hardest. It entailed installing Winrar on my computer for the zip files, and then extracting them to a new file and finally uploading them to my new 200 GB storage plan!
    Whew it was hard but worth it! Almost gave up several times. Can’t wait for family night to play them💕

    1. Holy smokes – that’s a huge undertaking! And I can totally see why it would be organizationally challenging and rewarding. Good for you — and great for your family to have this treasure trove that you curated for them. An accomplishment for sure, Victoria!

  4. What a lovely post. I especially enjoyed this line: “Perhaps it’s hard to become enlightened as a grown-up because we are on the wrong street and we bypassed the turn-off long ago.”

    I’m all about change. It’s been that way for the last few years, every since my last inpatient stay. Change or stay the same and die. And when it came down to it, dead wasn’t what I wanted. So, change it had to be. It’s a process and it takes time – forever, I suspect. I think this might be why we resist it as well – it’s hard and long and we don’t get much but personal satisfaction.

    I have a great many lost items in a safe space as well. The price of parenting 😂

    1. I love your insight that change is a process and it take time – maybe forever. I think you are on to something with that – it’s not something we can be done with. And your experience with change after your inpatient stay – wow, that’s powerful.

      And as touching as your comment is, I’m also laughing about your safe space. May we someday find those little items… 🙂

      Thank you for adding these insights to this post, Michelle!

  5. There are so many people resisting to changes. They should read your article here! By the way, I didn’t even know that the red button was a mouse! Thank you Wynne, I learned something today!

  6. Great post! I love the analogy of the brain with streets and speed limits- it seems to be true. Here’s to constantly trying new things and old things in new ways!

  7. I love that Andrew Cohen quote Wynne. I often think the path to enlightenment is letting go of what we think we know. We can sit and stubbornly refuse to change the way we are but change will happen anyway. You can’t stop it. Another great post 🙏

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