Zen of the Quit


Reasons, Pro and Con


I already suggested you start listing the reasons why you want to quit; now I will suggest that you also list the reasons why you want to keep smoking. Why?

Because if you’re going to quit smoking and you want to stay free, your reasons to quit have to be stronger than your reasons to keep smoking. Simple. The side with the strongest reason(s) will ultimately prevail.

So here’s what to do: take a piece of paper (a legal pad, or any kind of lined paper, will do) and draw a line down the middle, from top to bottom. Near the top, over one column, write “Reasons to Quit,” and over the other, write, “Reasons to Keep Smoking.”

Since I already gave you some guidelines on how to come up with reasons to quit (back in the post Why Quit Anyway?), I’ll do the same here for reasons to keep smoking:

In the reasons to keep smoking column, list any and every reason why you’d want to keep smoking. Some of the common reasons people list for this are, “It calms me down when I’m under stress,” or, “I want to keep smoking because if I quit, I’ll gain a lot of weight.”

Don’t worry about whether these reasons are logical, or make sense; if a reason to keep smoking occurs to you, put it on the list. Same with reasons to quit; no matter what they sound like, if a reason to quit occurs to you, put it on the list.

And after you’ve run out of reasons for either side, play the “what if?” game: start with the first reason in either column and ask, “What if this didn’t matter? What would my reason be then?”

For example, say that your first reason in the reasons to quit column is, “Because my [spouse or significant other] wants me to.” Ask yourself, “What if (he or she) didn’t care whether I kept smoking or not? What would my reason to quit be then?” Add whatever answer occurs to you to the list, and then play “what if?” with the new reason, too.

Keep going like this until you hit a reason that’s so basic, so fundamental, that there’s no way you could even think it might not matter. Then move on to the next reason on your list and do it again. Do the same thing with your list of reasons to keep smoking.

The reasons for this will become clear as we go on.

(If you're feeling a bit lost, it may be helpful to go back to the first post and follow along in order.)

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