written when i reached 85 months of freedom, and originally posted on december 19, 2008, this ramble reveals the key to quitting smoking successfully and staying free long-term.

85 months, one moment at a time

2009 March 3

85 months seems like such a long time, doesn't it?

here's the key: the only time it really matters if you choose not to smoke is in the moment you're having a crave.

you might look at that number and think, "wow! that's incredible! how did he stay free for so long?"

simple: by choosing life, just for this moment, every time the choice presented itself.

sure, there were a lot of activities that went into it along the way:

first of all, i went through the freedom from smoking online program (http://ffsonline.org/).

then i spent a lot of time over the next year or so on various quit-smoking support sites (most notably freedom from smoking and quitnet.com), offering — and accepting — support.

i also kept a quit journal and wrote in it every day (in fact, i filled three of them in my first 500 days), and i did two other things every day that were instrumental in helping me stay free:

every morning, as soon as i got out of bed, i stood in front of my bedroom mirror, looked myself in the eye, and recited my "mantra":


"i am a nicotine addict.

i cannot afford to feed that addiction.

not even one time.

so today, i choose life.

today, i choose health.

today, i choose strength.

today, i choose self-control.

today, i choose freedom.

today, i choose not to smoke."


and every night, before i went to bed, i'd pat myself on the back and congratulate myself for having lived up to the choices i'd made that morning.

in between those two events, whenever i had the urge to smoke (which was frequent and strong at first, but got less frequent and weaker the more i chose not to smoke), i'd recite the "reader's digest version" of my mantra to myself ("i am a nicotine addict. i cannot afford to feed that addiction; not even one time. so just for right now, i choose not to smoke.") and then go on with whatever i'd been doing before the urge hit me.

i did the journal, the morning mantra, and the bedtime pat on the back for about the first 500 days of my quit. does that seem like a lot to do? i don't: i figure it took me about 3 minutes a day to do those three things. multiply that by 500 days, and you get 1,500 minutes, or 25 hours. i invested an hour more than a day, and now i've been free for a month more than 7 years. was it worth it?

you bet. every minute of it.

here's the key: the only time it really matters if you choose not to smoke is in the moment you're having a crave, and that moment can catch you totally off-guard. that's why it's so important to practice making the choice over and over: so when you're caught totally off-guard by a crave, the right choice is automatic; the way reaching for a smoke used to be (or still is, if you're still fairly new to this).

and that's how have i've stayed free for the last 85 months: by practicing choosing life, just for this moment. and you can do that, too; if i can do it, anybody can.

forget the 85 months; it's just a number. remember the important thing:

choose life.

one moment at a time.

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  1. 2013 March 17
    Scott permalink

    Very inspiring! :)

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