3 Unsexy Habits That Immediately Increase Your Mental Strength

Higher mental capacity in three easy practices.

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There are many articles written about habits that help develop mental toughness — cold showers, running, martial arts, etc.

Those are great articles. But this article is about meta-habits you can apply almost everywhere in life. These habits, I hope, will alter how you process life.

I’ve always been trying to understand how my brain works. I’m trying to understand why some people have exceptional grit and achieve great things in life while others struggle to collect even smaller wins. The difference arises in how a person thinks. It’s about how much mental strength a person has.


A person who has immense mental strength is, in my opinion, happier. We suffer when our minds break down. We are unable to be productive because our brains are weak.

People like Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan were able to achieve incredible things because they had incredible mental strength.

That is why I’m on a quest to build immense mental strength myself. And in my journey, I’ve found these three habits to be the most helpful. Implement them in your life, and you’ll develop mental strength in no time.

Here are 3 unsexy habits that immediately increase your mental strength:

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1. Overshoot

I’m currently working on three projects — studying, fitness, and writing. And I have specific daily targets for each one of them:

  • Studying — 20 pages of First Aid (a book)+ 40 questions
  • Writing — 1000 Words
  • Fitness — 6 laps in the nearby park + strength workout

But every day, I make sure to overshoot in at least one of them. Maybe I’ll run eight laps instead of six or perhaps I’ll write 1500 words instead of 1000. Maybe I’ll study 25 pages and do 60 questions. Whatever it may be. Every day, I do a little bit more than I’m supposed to at least in one of my projects.

Our brains keep telling us to do less. And until now, I used to give in very quickly. I realized that I was mentally fragile. My actions didn’t parallel my ambitions, which is why I started to try to figure out how to be stronger mentally.

And it was pretty simple. My brain was always telling me to do less, and that is why I decided to do more. I started overshooting. What it did for me is that I’m no longer a slave to my brain’s laziness. I’ve built mental strength after I started this practice.


I try to not overshoot the same project two days in a row. I always try to mix it up. And what keeps me accountable to overshoot every day without fail is that I write about it in my journal every day.

You need to have definite daily targets for you to overshoot. If you’re not between multiple projects, overshoot in different aspects of the same project. But keep overshooting.

Our brains ask us to stop before we’re supposed to. When you overshoot, it’s you telling your brain you’re the one who calls the shots and you’re not a slave. You’re in total control of your mind.

“All the greats do one more and all the average don’t.”

— Ed Mylett


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2. Shock your system

In 2018, my brother asked me if I wanted to take part in the beginner course of Vipassana. In a fit of enthusiasm, I said yes. I didn’t know what I was signing up for.

For those of you who don’t know, it’s a 10-day meditation course. You’re not allowed to have your phones, books, or any edible items with you — basically, nothing except for clothes. You’re supposed to meditate for over 10 hours every day, eat less food than usual, and worst of all — absolutely no speaking with anyone else.

It was one of those experiences that shock your system. And boy, do they make your mind stronger. Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you try Vipassana. However, you should try at least once. But the idea is to do things that you’re not at all used to doing.


The idea is to — shock your system.

Change is something most people are not able to deal with. Even something simple like changing your default browser is super-uncomfortable. And when you voluntarily invite massive changes in your life, short-term or long-term, you’re putting your mind under stress. And stress, if it doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Right?

Some ideas to shock your system:

  • Wake up at 4 am straight for ten days.
  • Go tech-free for a week. (I did this a few years ago. But that’s a story for another time.)
  • Eat only one meal per day for three days straight. You won’t die. I promise. Fasting is good for you.
  • Go for a long run even if you’re not a runner.

You don’t have to go with any of these. Be creative and do something wild. Step out of the mundane and comfort. Let it shake you. Keep in mind that you have to shock your system and not just mildly annoy it.


And by the end of the act, your mind will be stronger. I add such experiences in my life regularly to make my mind strong enough to deal with adversities and adaptable to changes that come my way.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

—3 Friedrich Nietzsche

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3. Delay gratification

Delaying gratification is one of the sexiest tools in the mental toolbox. And I use it as a general tool everywhere. The idea is to not indulge in any pleasure that is presented to you in the present.

  • If someone offers you a cookie — say no.
  • A friend calls you up to hang out when you’re supposed to work — say no.
  • Netflix sends you a notification about some new movie — say no.

It’s not that you cannot do these. Eating cookies is one of my guilty pleasures. Hanging out with good friends is one of the most amazing treasures of life. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a good movie.


But I don’t indulge in them whenever they’re presented to me. Instead, I schedule these pleasures. I eat sugar only on Sundays. On other days, I eat clean and train. I hang out with my friends on Sundays. On other days, I study and write. Most Saturday evenings, you can find me on my couch watching a good movie and treating myself to some tomato popcorn.

And it’s easy to say ‘no’ to all those things at that moment because I know I have scheduled the very same things shortly. That is key. You have to delay gratification and not deny gratification.

Use this thought template: I can do _________(the act), but not today. I have to wait to do it until ________(whatever day you delay it to).


“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.”

— Richard G. Scott

A strong mind equals a good life. It’s essential to develop mental strength if you want to survive and thrive in this wicked world. How do you do that? By building better meta-habits.

Overshoot: Try to do more than your daily target for at least one of your projects every day. It breaks the habit of giving up before you’re supposed to.

Shock your system: Regularly do things that you’re not used to at all. Regularly dealing with discomfort makes you more efficient when life throws curveballs at you.

Delay gratification: Realize that instant gratification is the sole cause for you not being able to achieve your goals. Don’t ever give in to them. Instead, schedule your pleasures for the future and avoid indulging in the present moment.


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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.