Creating positive change (a/k/a how I quit smoking)

SmokingTen years ago I stopped smoking. It was one of the hardest of things I’ve ever done. For three days I suffered every physical symptom and craving possible – anxiety, sweating, insomnia, dry mouth, headache, even constipation. Everyone around me suffered too! Mentally though, I was tough. In my mind, I had already moved on from being a smoker.

I wasn’t “giving up” smoking or even quitting. That thinking underlines an attitude of lack and deprivation. I was getting rid of a bad habit. I was shedding the shackles. I was moving on to something better for me – a healthier, cleaner, free-er way of living.  Because I wasn’t giving up anything, I certainly didn’t need nicotine replacement gums or patches or vapor cigarettes to fill the void left by cigarettes. There was no void.

With every craving that came and went – and they always went – I breathed, ate ice and said “I’m getting rid of a bad habit” then smiled and celebrated inwardly. I have never smoked since and can’t imagine ever smoking again.

Very often we only change when it’s more painful to not change. Even then, the old way is familiar and comfortable. It will whine, entice and manipulate you to try and keep you where you are.

And that’s when it helps to know, not what you’re running from, but what you’re running to.

Turn your back on what you’re leaving behind. Cut the cord on what was. Don’t be nostalgic and glamourize the past. Understand why you’re changing and what you want for your future and then look forward. See the new way of being and you in it, doing it, living it, reaping the rewards. And then just keep moving forward.

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Every day

I worked with a woman who told me that every night when she tucked her boy into bed she’d ask him, “Did you do something today that was good for you? Did you do something nice for someone else? Did you do something today just DancePetsbecause it’s fun?”

She said those were their rules for a successful day.

Every day do something that’s maybe hard to do but good for you.

  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Eat healthful foods
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Drink enough water
  • Brush and floss your teeth
  • Tackle a chore you’ve been putting off, the one that you’ve spent more psychic time and energy on than the actual task would take!

Every day do something nice for someone else

  • Smile at a stranger and say good morning
  • Bring someone a treat – a cup of coffee or tea, or a flower from your garden
  • Help a neighbour or family member
  • Give your time or money to charity
  • Send a note just to say “hi”. Wow. Consider writing it on paper and sending it by real mail.
  • Hug someone
  • Pay a compliment. You know I’m a big fan of this one!

Every day do something just because it’s fun

  • Enjoy a big laugh
  • Play a game
  • Listen to music
  • Eat a decadent dessert
  • Enjoy a good book
  • Play with your children or pets
  • Make some art or try a hobby
  • Dance. Better yet dance naked. Oh, go on… dance naked in front of a mirror. I do this one every day. Some parts of me keep dancing long after I’ve stopped moving!

The beautiful thing about these every day rules of success is that each one will make you feel better. The hard stuff, even just attempted, will boost your sense of accomplishment. You cannot do for others without putting a gloss on yourself. And doing something just because it’s fun reminds you that you are lovable and life is a joy.

If you manage to dance naked in front of your pets while flossing your neighbour’s teeth you will be positively sublime.