85 months, one moment at a time
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/).
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:
one moment at a time.