*Dear elephant reader: if you’re single & looking for mindful dating or conscious love, try out our lovely partner, MeetMindful.
I started smoking at the age of 12.
Kids had a Nintendo in their backpacks, I had a box of cigarettes.
Frankly, I never thought about quitting. To begin with, cigarettes never bothered me. I was physically fit and healthy. As a matter of fact, I loved smoking. Everything about it served me well: the feel of the cigarette between my fingers, how beautiful my hand looked when holding it and the irreplaceable feeling of inhaling the smoke.
Also, I had favorite moments when it came to smoking. I especially loved smoking while having coffee and when drinking alcohol. The utmost pleasure was smoking after a meal. I wouldn’t even wash my hands directly after eating—I loved holding the cigarette when my fingers were still filthy from food.
Tables turned when I reached the age of 23. After almost 11 years of smoking, I started to feel physically uncomfortable after each cigarette. Whenever I smoked, my energy was depleted and my chest started to hurt. Back then, I used to dance, and the not-so-shocking news is that smoking started to affect my ability to perform or do any other activity related to sports.
This is when I decided to quit smoking.
The pain in my chest grew unbearable and smoking became a living hell. As a start, I stopped buying boxes of cigarettes. I only smoked when I was with fellow smokers. I would ask them for a cigarette or two, and basically consider it “enough.”
What helped me decrease my intake of nicotine was flipping my whole lifestyle—I cut down on coffee, alcohol and became a vegetarian.
Basically, I quit the tools that assisted me in smoking.
I must admit, that becoming a vegetarian was the greatest help. Chicken and meat are considered heavy meals, therefore plenty of people enjoy a cigarette after having them.
Refraining from buying cigarettes and changing my lifestyle did help. But this is not the surprising method that completely helped me quit smoking.
I invented a great method to help me quit smoking.
It might not apply to everyone.
Before laughing and calling me names, I am the first to tell you that there is a high possibility you might find this absolutely absurd. I’ve been there, done that. When people see me using this method, they burst out laughing. However, when I explain the rewarding benefits, they tilt their heads and rendered speechless.
After examining many methods, I came to realize that smoking is, above all, a habit. Let’s be frank: no one likes the taste of nicotine, nor having a bad breath or living with smelly hands and yellow teeth. Truth is, smokers grow used to cigarettes, but they don’t really love them.
“Habits” form in the “mind.”
As a result, I invented a method where I tricked my mind—basically giving it what it craved.
The method is easy—I simply held an unlit cigarette. At first it was quite hard. I would hold the lighter for hours and almost light the cigarette. What I did (and still do) is grab a cigarette and pretend that I’m smoking. I put it between my lips, I inhale and try to feel the smoke entering my lungs. Sometimes, I cough on purpose (you may laugh). Then, I use the ashtray and hold the cigarette again. I basically “smoke” but I’m not really smoking. After hours, I return the cigarette clean, and brand new, to whoever gave it to me.
I must confess, when people see me doing this, they burst out laughing. They take me for a crazy person. In the beginning, when someone saw me with an unlit cigarette they would approach with a lighter and offer to light it for me. I stopped them saying, “I’m fine, thank you. I am already smoking.” The look on people’s faces was priceless. At first, I felt embarrassed. Today, I do it with pleasure and confidence.
I always grow tired, after holding an unlit cigarette for hours. It is a proof that not only we are addicted to the nicotine, but we are addicted to the whole process of smoking—opening the box, grabbing a cigarette, lighting it, inhaling, using the ashtray then killing it.
It has been more than three years since I quit smoking.
I still ask for a cigarette and hold it for hours.
This method might not work for all regular smokers. It worked for me, as I approached it from the angle of my mind. I believe that addictions come from the mind.
Whether people choose this method or any other method, they must “will” their mind to do it.
If there is no real willpower to quit smoking, the whole quitting process will be impossible.
Nevertheless, if someone truly decides to cut down on their smoking, they will find a way to stop. See what works for you and apply it. The trick of the unlit cigarette worked for me! Good luck with quitting.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock