Figuring out how to quit smoking successfully can be a challenge for many. It was difficult for me no doubt because it took me 3 times before I finally got it right. Some people never figure it out because they haven’t figured out a method that works or because they lack the desire to quit.
I smoked for 25 years and got up to a pack and half a day of Camel Filters before I finally called it quits. I smoked my first cigarette when I was in college and while it wasn’t love at first puff, it eventually became a solid habit. As a college student, I thought I could make better life decisions. Well, my decision to start smoking wasn’t what I would consider a smart decision.
Before I get any further, I just want to say that I’m not a medical professional so none of this is professional advice. This is just my personal story of how I was able to finally quit smoking and wanted to share it with anyone who’s having difficulties. I know it can be hard.
So back to my story of smoking. I didn’t start off too heavily; it was more of a gradual thing. In college, I’d mainly smoke at parties while drinking or having coffee. From there, I’d have one after meals and so on. After 10 years, I had gotten up to a pack a day and I was ready to give quitting a try. I didn’t read any books about it or seek any advice. I remember my grandmother quitting years earlier and she was able to quit cold turkey just like that. Mistakenly, I thought I could do the same. I thought it was just a matter of strength, a matter of will, a matter of badassery. I came to realize I was not the Great Depression surviving badass that my grandmother was, not even close.
After a week of trying to use my will to quit, I went back to smoking. I was constantly irritable and thinking endlessly about smoking. It eventually broke me down.
My second attempt at quitting. I meant well, I really did.
So fast forward about a decade. My health was in a bad place; I had been diagnosed with high blood sugar, a pre-diabetic state, due to my crappy diet. I was also getting a couple of colds per year and sometimes bronchitis due to my relentless smoking habit. Boils also became a regular part of my reality which is no fun. On top of all that, I had quit my job without having another one to fall back on (I don’t recommend that), so my income took a dramatic hit. Cigarettes were not only wreaking havoc on my health, but it was putting a dent in my pocketbook.
I wanted to figure out how to quit smoking without “missing it”. My strong belief that cigarettes gave me comfort was keeping me up at night. I believed the act of lifting something to my mouth, inhaling and filling up my chest was something I couldn’t live without. This was when I discovered e-cigarettes.
I thought e-cigarettes were going to be my life saver. It would allow me to perform the act of smoking without all the poisons of smoking an actual cigarette. What I discovered was that e-cigs didn’t give me what I wanted. I mistakenly thought it would seamlessly replace cigarettes in my life, but it didn’t. Many people happily vape and I was frustrated that I couldn’t be one of them, so I went back to smoking Camel Filters again. Second attempt at quitting = failed.
How To Quit Smoking Naturally Without Using Willpower
I’m going to outline the steps I took to eventually quit smoking for good. I must issue a warning; there’s reading involved. Not just this blog post, but books. Two of them. Maybe one book is all you’ll need, but it took two for me have the tools needed to kick the smoking habit.
My 3rd attempt at quitting came a year after my 2nd attempt. I was broke, sick, and depressed but determined to give it another try.
First step: The Power of Now
Because I had suffered from depression most of my adult life, I had given meditation a try many years ago. I didn’t stick with it at the time, but wanted to reintroduce it back into my life. At this point, I wasn’t really thinking about quitting smoking again.
A few months prior to my 3rd attempt of quitting smoking, I discovered a book called The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. If any of you are familiar with Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness, this is a lot of what the book is about although Tolle’s not a big fan of the word “mindfulness”, but that’s a whole other story. He also refers to other spiritual teachers and their teachings and draws parallels between them.
Our human mind often tends to worry, create drama, bounce from thought to thought and concern itself with the past and future. This is the source of most of our suffering, but bringing our presence and awareness to it can help to alleviate some of that suffering. He uses the term “painbody” to refer to the negative emotions we experience as a result of our inner self-inflicted drama and conditioning.
Although I had studied Buddhism and meditation years prior, this book reintroduced mindfulness and awareness to me in a way that really resonated deeply with me.
Reading this book and practicing what it taught gave me a heightened sense of awareness. I was able to notice the uneasy feelings associated with cigarette cravings as well as the thoughts and beliefs I had about smoking. Without realizing it at the time, this was my first step to saying goodbye to smoking forever.
In case you’re wondering, you don’t have to be Buddhist to read this book or practice awareness and mindfulness. You’ll simply learn how to stay present and about the nature of the mind which will give you a better understanding of yourself and your inner workings. Our behavior, good, bad or neutral, is based on our beliefs and thoughts. As a result of getting in touch with our beliefs and thoughts, we have better control of our behavior.
Second step: Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking
The act of practicing mindfulness in my everyday life, made me want to look into quitting smoking again. Even with my new heightened awareness, I wanted reinforcements, perhaps a quitting technique I hadn’t tried before. I did some research and found the book, Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking, which has a ton of good reviews. I bought the book and read it. Not gonna lie, the book was a little frustrating to read. It’s repetitive and all I kept thinking was “get to the point! I want to quit now!”. I guess there’s a reason it’s repetitive; the book actually helps you to change your beliefs about smoking. Apparently changing beliefs requires some repetition. At the end of the book, I was so angry at cigarettes and smoking that the idea of quitting was something I looked forward to.
The ceremonious final cigarette was a relief and a figurative “eff you” to the smoking habit. I couldn’t wait to never have to look at another cigarette again.
In my first 2 failed attempts at quitting, I saw cigarettes like an old friend who provided comfort. It was like breaking up with a partner with whom I was still in love. This “Easy Way To Stop Smoking” book made me feel like I was breaking up with an abusive partner who I was fed up with and completely and utterly over. See the difference? When your mind and heart are done, you can finally move on. That doesn’t mean there were no physical withdrawal symptoms; there were, but they were much weaker than the ones I had experienced in my previous failed attempts. The “Power of Now” put me in a place to simply observe my mild physical discomfort without judgment. After a short while, a few days in my case, the mild discomfort went away.
So, that’s it. I read two books and was able to figure out how to quit smoking with no cravings or willpower. “The Power of Now” brought heightened awareness to my thoughts, anxiety and cravings. The Easy Way to Quit Smoking changed my beliefs about smoking which broke my attachment. It’s been 2 years since that day and with some changes to my nutrition, my health has done a complete 180 for the better. There are people who’ve been able to quit smoking by reading just one of these books, but I needed both or at least I believed I needed both.
Have you been able to successfully quit smoking? If so, share your experiences in the comments section below. Good luck to everyone else who’s still trying to quit.
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