9 Things I Learned from Quitting Smoking for a Year

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January 1st marked my one year anniversary of being cigarette free. There are a ton of obvious reasons why I gave up smoking and I could go in to more details, but right now I want to tell you the 9 biggest, most life-changing things I’ve noticed.

Oh, and just a little disclaimer: this is not a “do not smoke” campaign…I have no problem with smokers. it’s just me telling you my results.

1.) I smell great

To me, cigarettes used to smell like a steak fresh off the grill. People would walk by me while smoking and I would salivate.

After quitting for only a few months, cigarettes started to smell weird- like musty old chemicals. I realized this is what my breath, clothes, car, hair and fingernails smelled like to other people for almost 10 years of my life.

Now, I don’t have to apologize for the smell when someone gets into my car. I’m not accidentally burning holes through my clothes, and I don’t have to go through hourly grooming rituals just trying to smell smoke-free.

2.) I’m in way better shape

Smoking really slowed me down. If I had a cigarette (just 1) before going to the gym, breathing and working out was harder and I’d quit more easily.

Since quitting smoking I can run faster for longer amounts of time and have TONS more stamina. I can take deep, full breathes and am in seriously better shape.

3.) I don’t get sick constantly

I coughed so much as a smoker I just thought it was part of living life. I also was getting really sick with a cough or cold every few months.

Now, I have been healthy for an entire year and my smoker’s cough is gone. Staying in shape and getting things accomplished is so much easier without being shut down by illness every few months.

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4.) I’m not obsessing over the next cigarette

As a smoker, my life was ruled by the next cigarette. When can I get outside to smoke again? If I go somewhere, or do something, how will I schedule in time for a cigarette?

I was always concerned people would find out about my addiction and carried around mints and perfume so no one would find out about my dirty deeds.

Now I don’t have to think about any of this. An entire space in my brain is free to think about other things. When I wake up in the morning, the thought of having a cigarette or having ‘Quit Smoking’ burned into my to do list has finally vanished.

5.) People are attracted to me more

I heard somewhere in a study that the #1 thing you shouldn’t put on an online dating profile is that you’re a smoker.

Non-smokers don’t like the taste or smell of cigarettes. If I dated a non-smoker, they’re were constantly irritated I smelled strange and was indulging in an unhealthy habit.

Being a smoker felt like being in a cult where I could only date people of my kind. Because of the ‘smoking cult’ many of my friendships had been formed over smoking.

I wondered what my smoking friends and I would have in common after I quit but both smokers and non-smokers were attracted to my self-control and impressed with my will to quit.

Smoking is a deal breaker for quite a few people. Who knows- you could be missing out on the love of your life because of it. Why narrow your options?

6.) No more constant guilt or disdain

This is a big one. As a smoker, people like to remind you all the time ‘Smoking is bad for you’ (as if you didn’t know).

There is NO need to tell smoker this- they have heard it. It’s in the back of their brain every second of every puff. It was always on the back of mine. The thought of cancer, gum disease, or my family’s disappointment in me nagged at me constantly.

Non-smokers are almost unbearably disdainful and judgmental of smokers. It was unpleasant to always be on the other end of annoyed glances and pissed off eye rolls every time I lit up.

Now, I don’t have to be guilt tripped by ‘Anti-Smoking’ commercials and the people who comment on my habits.

I just don’t have to think about any of that stuff AT ALL.

It’s like ending a dysfunctional relationship. You might miss it for the first couple of months, but after that you wonder why you were even bothering with the hassle in the first place.

7.) I’m not burning away my money (literally)

It is crazy to think that every week, I was taking $15 and literally setting it on fire. Not only that, but I was paying hard-earned cash to kill myself slowly. That’s CRAZY.

I took my dad’s advice and now stash those funds away in a special bank account.

I take the $60 a month I would have spent on smoking, and indulge in other vices that get me high (on life) like exercise, and fancy clothes.

8.) My senses are suddenly in technicolor

I didn’t realize I was numbing my senses until they starting coming back. It took a few months. Suddenly- smells started to really hit me again. Oceans and flowers have become seductively fragrant and my food gusts with flavor. For ten years, I didn’t even know I was missing out.

9.) When you control yourself you control your reality

 “What lies in our power to do,

lies in our power not to do.”

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC, Greek philosopher and polymath)

 

Deep- right?

Quitting smoking may have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But it is definitely the best thing i’ve ever done.

And exerting this will-power and control over my actions has helped me dictate what I do and ultimately, my fate.

The more I am able to control my actions and my thoughts, the more powerful I become and the more I am able to shape the world around me.

I know, I know. It sounds like a scene from the Matrix. But it’s the truth.

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame- you alone are responsible for the quality of it and making yourself the person you want to become.

Here is inspiration from a few brilliant people who understood the extremely awesome power of practicing self control:

It is better to conquer yourself

than to win a thousand battles.

Then the victory is yours.

Buddha
(c. 563 BC – 483 BC, founder of Buddhism)

For a man to conquer himself
is the first and noblest of all victories.

Plato
(424/423 – 348/347 BC, philosopher in Classical Greece)
I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself
Pietro Aretino
Rule your mind or it will rule you.
Horace
(65 BC – 8 BC, Roman lyric poet)
UPDATE: After posting this, a lot of you asked how I finally managed to quit. For me, there really was one magical solution, that didn’t involve any gross nicotine gum or e-cigarettes.
It is called The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allan Carr. It really did miracles for me. I hope it does for you too.