I quit smoking 2 years ago. I’m not going to tell you how I did it. That would be pointless and you know it.
Instead, I would like to tell you what I learned. This might sound strange, but the story actually starts in 1947. The Americans and Russians were in a race to break the sound barrier. Every time a pilot got close to that magical 767 miles per hour, they would fail, and it seemed the more they tried, the harder it became.
Then, on October 14th, Chuck Yeager, flying the X-1, attempted the impossible. His commanding officer joked with him to fill out his life insurance. Yeager just asked for a pack of chewing gum.
As the jet reached 768 mph, a giant explosion was heard. America’s best pilot was dead. That was, until his voice came over the radio saying that the speedometer must be broken, it was reading a speed that was supposed to be impossible.
What Yeager understood, and what no one else could even comprehend, was that the difference between 767 miles per hour and 768 is just a number. It is meaningless. This was proven over the course of the next few months as the record was broken again, and again, and again, by pilots who had failed before, in airplanes that couldn’t break the record.
Chuck Yeager showed everyone that this impossible speed wasn’t that big of a deal. He made something possible, just by showing the world what could be done.
I thought quitting smoking was impossible, but looking back, I realize I just had one last cigarette. And instead of telling you how I did it, I want to tell you the six things I learned from quitting.
But first, you are going to have to prepare yourself for this battle because…
#1 Quitting smoking is the hardest thing I ever did. Take it seriously
I have done excruciatingly hard things in my life. Yet nothing even compares to smoking my last cigarette. I knew this was going to be painful, and I planned for it like I was invading Normandy. Specifically:
- I chose the date to quit smoking. February 25th, 2014. I picked this date for a reason; I had decided to quit a few weeks before, but my birthday was February 23rd, and I knew there was no way I would make it through that day, or the next, without a cigarette.
- I banned myself from going to any convenient store for the next month. It is just too tempting to buy cigarettes when they are right there. I also banned myself from drinking anywhere but at my home.
- I called all my close friends who smoked and told them I would not hang out with them for the next month.
- I told all my non smoking friends that if they saw they me with a cigarette, they could pull it out of my mouth and punch me in the face.
- I created a checklist of activities for whenever I had a craving. These included hoola hooping for five minutes, going on a dating app and sending a message to a girl which read “I know this sounds weird, but I am quitting smoking and really need to talk to someone for a minute,” and playing a lot of Clash of Clans.
You are about to do something incredibly hard. You are awesome for doing this. But do not take it lightly.
Let me be very straight with you. The next month of your life will probably suck, but one miserable month is worth the rest of your life.
#2 Smoking is Awesome
Let’s get this out of the way right now. Smoking is awesome.
Smoking was my one friend on a lonely night, an excuse to get out of the house. It was there for me when I didn’t know anyone at the party, and after I went through a hard breakup. Cigarettes are magical, and anyone who says they are disgusting habit has never really been a smoker.
There’s a reason you started smoking. You are not an idiot. Smoking makes you feel good. Unfortunately, they are also killing you.
My relationship with cigarettes was not bad, it served it’s purpose, but it was time to move on. When I smoked my last cigarette, I thanked it for the memories. It was sad. I’m sure I will have a similar feeling when my kids go to college.
And while cigarettes are awesome, they also have a very un-awesome trait:
#3 Cigarettes Lie
When I first moved to Los Angeles I picked up smoking to meet people. I wasn’t good at making friends, but I noticed people who smoked seemed to have an honor among thieves.
I found many other uses for cigarettes, they gave me an excuse to walk outside. They made coffee taste better. They even settled my stomach after a big meal.
The more I smoked, the more this all seemed to be true. I had certain bars I liked to go to just for the smoking section. I seemed to always have stomach problems after a meal, and cigarettes always took that discomfort away.
The first time I tried to quit smoking I gave myself outs. I could still smoke with certain friends, in certain situations, at certain places. Then a weird thing happened, I found myself with these certain friends more and more, at those certain places daily. It was becoming a crutch for everything I did. One time I was making out with a beautiful girl, and my only thought was waiting for it to end, so I could go meet a friend and have a smoke.
You see, it was all a lie, cigarettes lie, but you don’t know that they are lying to you until they are completely out of your life. Everything says you are controlling the situation, but the cigarettes are actually controlling you. your brain wants these chemicals so bad, they will reconstruct your thoughts just to get its fix.
It’s like that person you fell instantly in love with, their flaws were fun little quirks, and their red flags are the things you liked about them most. Then six months go by and you realize those fun little quirks were actually completely insane traits, and the red flags were there for a reason.
And much like you didn’t believe your friends when they warned you about your crazy ex, you won’t believe me when I tell you…
#4 There is absolutely no downside to not smoking.
Remember when you were stressed out and needed that cigarette? Remember when you were uncomfortable in a group of people and used smoking as an excuse to leave? Remember when you went to the smoking section to make a friend? You don’t need that anymore. I’m not going to take those feelings away from you. There may have been a time that cigarettes helped you in all these things. But you are stronger and wiser now.
It is still unbelievable to me how little I miss smoking, and how everything I enjoyed about it, has completely gone away.
You know what relieves stress better than going for a walk so you can have a smoke?
Going for a walk.
You know what is a better pickup line than, “Do you smoke?”
“I quit smoking.”
I still head to the smoking section to make friends. I let people know I quit, but I prefer smokers because they are my type of people. I always thought it was the cigarette making the magic, but like every childhood film I’ve watched, the magic was always in me.
I’m not going to lie, I still crave a cigarette once in awhile. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am no longer a smoker. However, there is absolutely no downside. I feel better, food is more flavourful, kissing is more fun, I’m even more confident.
And while there is no downside, there is one huge upside!
#5 You can now accomplish anything
In the two years since I have quit smoking, I have designed and built two smartphone apps, I published my first novel, I worked with an architect to build a house and remodel another, I have began the process to file for my first patent, and am building an industrial design company. I have made a lot of friends, traveled all over the country, and started to learn how to make music. It has been both the best, and most productive two years of my life.
I give a lot of credit to quitting smoking.
It’s not what you think. It’s not about being healthier, or any of the benefits you usually hear.
It’s because I accomplished something that is very hard. I beat an addiction. Whenever things have been tough, whenever I was unsure of myself, confused, insecure, I can always go back to that. I can always remember those hard days of quitting that drug: The cold sweats and insomnia. The physical pain and discomfort. Knowing that I could take all that hardship away with just one puff of a cigarette.
It took me three months to quit. The first week was hell. By the end of the first month I thought the cravings would end, but they did not. It was three months of pure misery. I wasn’t sure if I could make it. But I continued to fight, and I won. You can too.
It starts now. Make your decision, pick your date, plan your invasion, do not back down. It will be hell, but it will be worth it, your life will be better in every way. This single accomplishment will give you more than that quick two minute fix ever did.
Because here’s the most important thing I learned:
#6 Quitting cigarettes is the greatest drug ever made