When cravings hit you out of nowhere

Spring in Central Ohio

Usually April and May in Central Ohio are cold, cloudy and damp, like living in the armpit of a zombie.

This year, they have been warm and golden, and although still damp, it’s much more like living in the armpit of Chris Hemsworth.

Blossoms festoon the trees, wreathe front walks, and perfume the breezes with scents that don’t even smell like B.O. at all.

It makes for prime chardonnay-drinking weather.

At least that’s what my initial thoughts are when I look outside, before I remember I don’t do that anymore.

Ever get one of those sudden urges to do something you already moved on from?

If weird thoughts like this slip into your brain unbidden, don’t fret. It doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to undo all your hard work getting rid of undesirable habits.

It’s all just brain chemistry.

To oversimplify it a bit, basically, your brain wired up connections between a trigger and a reward. In my case, between a sunny back porch (trigger) and a glass of chardonnay (reward).

When your brain sees the trigger, it tells you to get the reward.

Even if you don’t act to get those rewards any longer, your brain still has that wiring, and every once in a while, it reminds you of that.

One way to override your brain chemistry is to remember idea versus reality. Or as James Clear says so eloquently in his book Atomic Habits, “It is the idea of pleasure that we chase.”

In other words, the idea of hanging out on the porch with a heavy pour sounds pleasurable. But the reality would be awful. Thinking that through makes me dismiss the notion outright.

I use a similar approach when I find myself tempted to eat 20 chocolate chip cookies. I say to myself, a little condescendingly, “go ahead, but you know it won’t make you feel any better.” The idea of stuffing my face sounds amazing. The reality of that means a bloated stomach and inability to sleep.

In short, your triggers might keep triggering you, but as long as you know about it and you think about it, no big deal.

Also, hanging out in Thor’s underarm is better when you’re sober.

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