Lighten Up

This post is about lightening up and getting to know yourself better. It’s a life long effort.

I have two friends who used to be smokers with me.  We weren’t chimneys or, good gawd, vapers, who look like steam engines, but we were smokers nonetheless. Truth is that few things in my life were as gloriously satisfying as a Marlboro Light. I looked forward to hopping in the truck just so I could light up and enjoy a deep and long drag.

My Story

I smoked about once a day and knew that even once a day was once too much. Of course, I tried quitting. What smoker doesn’t? I had successes, but never for more than a month or so. Finally, I decided that I would never quit. Instead, I decided that I would take a year off. After a year, I could go and buy a carton if I wanted to. I was surprised that my year off was easy. After my first genuflections, I never thought about smoking. Somehow, for me, this little mind trick removed the question from my habits and yearning. A year later, I bought a cigarette. (You could buy singles for seventy-five cents were I lived). It didn’t kill me but had lost any appeal. It stunk and tasted lousy, and I didn’t want to spend the money on it. I’ve never smoked since.

Price vs. Pleasure

My buddy PE quit in a single day. He was a navy man and bought smokes at the commissary for pennies a carton. It gave him something to do undersea for months at a time. One day he walked into the store, and the price of a carton had jumped from about twenty to thirty bucks, and he refused to pay that much.  He claims to have never smoked since and I’ve never seen him light up. In his battle of habits, the tightwad won over smoking. Bully for him.

A Book to the Rescure

AG tried quitting all kinds of ways for years. What worked for him was a book. It was about how tobacco companies use all sorts of fillers and chemicals to make their products cheaper and more addictive. I still don’t know how true it is – nicotine delivered in small, regular doses is fantastically addictive – but it worked for him. He was angry for a year and vowed to never pay those bastards a dime again.

There are two morals to the story. One is to know yourself. Try to figure out what drives you. I know I want cookies and pie when I’m feeling lousy, and when I fight with my wife, I retreat. Knowing that I gravitate toward these behaviors helps me to change them. The other message is to keep trying. What worked for Raoul might not work for Julie. What does not work for Julie worked wonders for Ilsa. It’s hard to know why, but we are all different with different experiences. So be kind to yourself and give some latitude and you will finally stumble on what you didn’t know you were looking for.


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