Sugar for the Mind

Whenever you enter a new year, you inevitably hear discussions about new years resolutions.

These are intentional changes that we want to make, to stop or start doing something. Usually, it’s because we’re tired of our current circumstances, and we crave a change.

This year, when I started thinking what I wanted my new year resolutions to be, two came to mind:

Stop eating sugar.
Stop gossiping about other people.

To me, these two changes actually have a lot in common.

Both are very easy to do, very pleasing and feel rewarding in the moment. Yet, both somehow make you feel sort of uneasy later. You regret the action and wish you’d been wiser.

When it comes to sugar, I have got into the habit of consuming sugar without realizing it. Mostly through alcohol, small snacks, and desserts. There is a lot of hidden sugar in foods that I didn’t realize is what makes me want to eat them. The more I read about health, I can see the benefits of removing sugar from my life.

As far as gossip goes, I’ll admit I am a bit of a ‘shit talker’. It’s not that I actively want to gossip about other people, but I notice myself doing it from time to time. I have found myself criticizing or condemning people when they are not there.

Gossip is a fascinating social behavior and is very tied to social bonding. When we gossip with someone about another person, we actually feel closer to them. It doesn’t really matter what is said, it’s more the act of trusting each other with the gossip. It can be entertaining and cathartic, at least in the moment.

For me, I have noticed that the gossip habit creeps up on me. It’s hidden in conversations, like sugar in food. I can feel the spike of enjoyment, but also the unease it creates if I indulge too much.

In a lot of respects, gossip is like sugar for the mind. It tastes good but makes you feel like crap.

The past week, since the start of January, I have done my best to stop eating sugar and to stop gossiping. Already, I have almost made slip-ups and caught myself in the act.

I realized today that by sharing this, I can keep myself accountable.

To me, my resolutions are different to my goals and actions. Goals and plans are trackable by what I do. But resolutions are new habits that I want to create.

Every time I want to eat something, I ask if it contains sugar. If it does, then I say no.

Every time I start to speak about another person, I have to ask if I’d say the same thing if they were sitting next to me. If the answer is no, I say nothing.

As I remove sugar and gossip from my life, I know there will be short-term pain. The habit and the cravings will be there for a while, but over time, I will thank myself for my resolve.

We shall see what happens.


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