Mind, Body & Health (incl. Quitting Smoking)

How I quit, by Ken Wear

1-14-08:. Quitting smoking (cigarettes): I smoked for years. Over 2-3 years I had tried a number of approaches to quitting (brute force of will, not buying & bumming, cutting down -- even one cigarette per day, putting them where I could not easily get to them, smoking a pipe), without success, when I decided on the approach that did work. It was this: One weekend I opened a pack of cigarettes and placed it, with one cigarette sticking out, atop the refrigerator, which I would pass several times during the day. I had decided that avoiding temptation did not work, so I vowed to deliberately present temptation and resist it. That was a rough weekend but I did resist and discovered that on the third day the desire for a cigarette began to recede and, by the coming weekend it was much easier to resist; in another week there was little desire. Of course from time to time for several months I occasionally felt a desire to smoke, but it was now easy to resist because I knew the danger of even one relapse. That was 40 years ago and I have not smoked since. It was months before I began to recognize the offensiveness of odors associated with smoking. One after-effect of my smoking career is that, if I am in a room with smokers for an hour or so, my lungs are on fire afterward for several hours. I have concluded that, ultimately, your desire to quit is the most important part of quitting.

There might be interest in how I commenced smoking in the first place: After high school I entered evening college and made friends there. One of them smoked a pipe and I liked the aroma produced by his pipe. He was using an aromatic blend, so I bought a pipe, sniffed several candidate blends, and commenced smoking the pipe. But our Air Force National Guard unit was called up. Carrying pouch and pipe proved problematical so I switched to cigarettes -- no aroma but it was convenient and I could resupply on base. I never returned to the pipe -- that horrible-tasting liquid that accumulates in the pipe barrel might have helped deter me. Today none of my contemporaries smoke so there is no temptation to light up; moreover, I suspect that even smoke from a pipe would irritate my lungs and cause a flare-up of the damage done during those years of smoking cigarettes.

To access a series of self-observations on mind, body and health over a period of years, click here. This material is highly personal and presented because it may be of value to you in your self-regulation of your own health. I implore you to treat it with respect.

Because of their importance, I quote here the two opening paragraphs of those self-observations:
"When you reach the age of reason, you have the primary responsibility for your own continued good health in addition to such choices as formal or self-education, activities, diet, . . . Much as you may wish it, no one else can monitor your bodily and mental responses to the day's occurrences, and no one else has nearly as much interest in your stability and good fortune as you. It behooves you to learn as much about caring for your own body as your mental capacity permits.

"Recall that 1) each body is unique so that a pathogen may affect different persons differently, 2) few of us are medically trained sufficiently to associate symptoms with malady, and 3) your physician is guided by your recitation of symptoms in diagnosing your condition. Since we may not know which symptoms to describe, the number of misdiagnoses of medical problems is not surprising; more, since the course of treatment is determined by the diagnosis, it is not surprising that our bodily response to prescribed medications or treatments is sometimes negligible or unfavorable."

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