It all started with a pact I made with a friend…
Tuesday May 22nd 2018.
I have previously tried quitting smoking but always about five months in, I’d relapse.
I still made that pact anyways, with 80% curiosity and 20% determination… Could I really turn away from that cancer stick for good?
Well, as the title had suggested, I have so far succeeded.
Nine months and counting since I’ve put down that stick.
Truth be told, I had a few moments where I did a huff and a puff there, however, it was a rather disgusting experience. I surprised myself with that reaction and took it as a positive sign. I never really hated the taste until now, even when I first started.
How did I do it though? After all, I have been smoking for just about ten years now.
I believe this is the one true way to do it: going cold turkey.
I did go cold turkey last time too, though it was consequential of my surgery rather than a conscious effort. The times before that, I’ve tried using vape; the cut-down method, etc. - none of it worked, not permanently at least.
This time though, I made a simple, conscious decision: I wanted to LEARN A NEW HABIT in life which consequently means being smoke-free - to learn the new habit of walking down the street, hands free of cigarettes; to learn a habit of staying seated at the dinner table; and to even have a good walk around at the airport rather than being stuck in the smoking lounge.
It probably sounds quite tedious, but it worked. By changing the mindset from ‘quitting’ to ‘learning a new habit’- I believe this has something to do with positive reinforcement learning? Rather than saying NO and STOP, one is to learn through encouraging in a positive manner, i.e. learning a new habit.
Teachers, please enlighten me on this?
Eight months down the line and I feel as though I had never even been a smoker. I can’t even imagine holding a cigarette anymore. It all was like a distant memory…
Of course, health-wise, being smoke-free definitely has HUGE benefits… Yet, I would like to share about an experiential difference I noticed was most significant in my life: THE GIFT OF TIME.
The most significant and almost immediate change I’ve noticed was that I had SO MUCH MORE TIME.
See, a cigarette stick takes at least ten minutes to smoke through the whole length (even if you’re a quick smoker) … and imagine this: I used to go through on average a 20-pack within a day. Lets do the maths:
20 sticks x 10 minutes = 200 minutes = 3.33 hours of my life in a day.
3 hours a day x 7 days a week = that’s 21 hours within a week dedicated to smoking… THAT IS LITERALLY PART-TIME JOB HOURS.
Yes, that was the most significant change for me, and it was a change I gratefully welcomed.
This refunded time was the most encouraging aspect. I do feel as though I’m less rushed, and most importantly, my attention switched from ten minutes with the cigarette, to ten minutes of engaging with another purposeful activity (e.g. writing, observing, listening, reading, chatting with friends…)
I used to think that smoking gave me some ‘alone time,’ though over the years, it wasn’t my alone time anymore as I became so dependent on this ‘friend’ of mine, I was actually never alone. Every available moment, i will be reaching out for that cigarette. What alone time?
The power of determining my alone time is in my hands and my hands alone, free from a cigarette.
Photography by: Emma Styles Photography
Thank you for reading.
Are you a smoker or previously have smoked? Leave me a comment below to tell me your experience and thoughts!
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