An impulse to reach for a sugary snacks between meals. An need to scroll down notifications on a smartphone. An itch to break uncomfortable silences with something funny or inappropriate. An urge to snap at our partner or friend in a tense moment. A burning hunger for a certain meal at a certain restaurant.
Our days are filled with several such moments. These cravings often originate as a response to something that makes us feel uncomfortable. They are our brain’s unconscious response to the discomfort that it is trying to run away from. A measure of our mental fortitude is the degree to which we can watch such cravings appear and fade away without giving in to them.
We exercise our physical muscles through conscious activity. Exercising our mental muscle happens through conscious inactivity – by watching the impulses that creep into our minds and letting them go without leaving behind a stain.