“5 Life Lessons” Article Reviewed

I just read a funny article titled “5 Life Lessons You Only Learn Through Quitting Smoking” at cracked.com (I have a Google alert set up for the phrase “quitting smoking” and this article was in that alert yesterday. And no, this wasn’t the first time I’d read article at cracked.com ;)), and I thought I’d do a mini-review and recommendation here.

I’ll take the author’s five lessons in the order he presented them and respond to each, then at the end, I’ll give you a quote and a link to the actual article:

#5. You Can’t Expect People to Know What You’re Going Through

This is absolutely true, especially when those people are not recovering addicts themselves. People who have never smoked (or active smokers who’ve never quit) just don’t get it; they have no point of reference in their lives to give them the smallest clue about what you’re dealing with, and so you can’t expect to get support, or even much sympathy, from them.

This is why it’s so important to know exactly why you’re doing this, and to look for support from people who have been where you are and are going where you want to go.

#4. Your Body Lies to You

I’m not sure I agree with this, but that’s probably just semantics; the point he’s making is a good one: you can’t just accept every signal that your body sends at face value in the early days of your quit: as I pointed out in this article, you can easily confuse hunger with the craving for nicotine, and vice versa, so it’s important to be conscious of what’s actually going on for you and respond appropriately.

#3. Your Memory Will Change With Your Mood

This is also true; if your reasons to quit aren’t really strong and deeply ingrained, when the going gets tough, you may talk yourself out of your commitment because you’d rather not remember why you made that commitment in the first place.

#2. Everything is Temporary, Even if It Doesn’t Feel Like It

Also absolutely true. Although it may feel like a crave is going on forever while you’re having it, the reality is that most craves last less than five minutes. You can prove this to yourself by committing to not smoking for at least five minutes whenever you get a crave, and setting a timer for five minutes whenever you get a crave (there are timers available as widgets for whatever operating system you’re using); if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised by how many times the timer goes off and you’ve already forgotten you were having a crave. Seriously. Try it.

(This is the essence of my famous “Two-Step Quit Plan“)

#1. Controlling Your Moods is Your Responsibility

True again. You have to take responsibility for how you act when you’re quitting; once again, the vast majority of people you encounter will have no clue what you’re dealing with, even if you tell them. So, get used to saying, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I just quit smoking, and I’m a little on edge right now…” (or words to that effect).

The Bottom Line

At one point, the author writes,

This isn’t an “If you do these things, you’ll succeed at quitting smoking!” article. I’ve never succeeded in quitting smoking, so anything I say to that effect would be total bullshit speculation. What I can tell you, though, is that all my laps around this track have given me a really good view of where the potholes are.

And that’s a pretty fair assessment: he does have a good idea of where the potholes are, and he has a funny way of expressing them. I encourage you to read the whole article for yourself; it’ll probably give you a good laugh (warning: there’s a fair amount of off-color language in the article, so, if you’re easily offended by that kind of thing, you may want to skip it).

Here’s the link:


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