“A craving is just a craving unless we get sucked into it. How we relate to our thoughts and feelings makes all the difference.” – Judson Brewer, Ph.D.

We all have addictions.

The word “addiction” quickly conjures up images of the drug addict or chronic gambler. But addiction describes any behavioral pattern that you repeat despite adverse consequences.

We can become addicted to certain negative emotions, thought loops, foods, self-image, even exercise. Some addictions are of course more damaging than others.

Our brains become conditioned by approach and avoidance depending on how we interact with the world. This is apparent throughout daily life, such as when we crave more Netflix and praise from our boss while trying to get away from foul smells and crying babies on airplanes.

Whatever lights up our reward centers in the brain (which our brains think might help us survive or reproduce) we want more of that. Addictions are maladaptive forms of this same craving mechanism. And conversely whatever might have caused us harm, our brains say "no more of that please." In the case of the foul smell, for example, the brain has been alerted to a potentially dangerous, bacteria-ridden substance.

The “unexamined life,” as Socrates put it, truly can lead to a path of self-destruction, subconsciously repeating habits that aren’t conducive to health or happiness. In all of human history it’s never been more difficult to have a fit mind, but also never more necessary. All of the challenges in modern life create the perfect opportunity to train the mind on a daily basis by confronting the myriad obstacles we face.

Recognizing how the mind is set up through meditation and introspection can help begin to loosen this conditioning. We can begin to pause in the moment rather than reacting right away. And as we widen the gap between stimulus and response, slowly addictions stop running our lives.

[Note: If you have a serious addiction please contact a mental health professional in this area of expertise. The FitMind program is taught at addiction recovery centers but in conjunction with traditional methods of treatment.]

PS - Claim a free trial of the FitMind meditation app here.