The World Health Organisation has declared May 31, 2012 as World No Tobacco Day. Seems like a good day to make a pledge to quit smoking, right? But then so did my birthday, Christmas, New Year's Day, Australia Day, after that farewell barbecue, and every Monday morning... so what's different about this promise?
Last week I started reading some Facebook pledges by other people, in search of inspiration to bolster my own arsenal of reasons to quit smoking, this time permanently. Some people said they're "doing it for my kids" (I have none), for "my last season of rugby league for life" (I don't play), or because [sic] "its all Julia Gillards fault".
The stories were all deeply embedded in individual ambitions and desires, as are the reasons why we decide to smoke in the first place, and to continue our habits. Maybe, like me, you sneaked your first puff to impress the other kids behind the school shed, and then the pressure of college and continuing stress at work just kept getting the better of you. Whatever the reasons, addiction is certainly complex, and can be triggered by all sorts of emotional and environmental factors, some we're not even aware of.
It's not my intention to get psychoanalytical, but I will say that reading people's online goals did inspire me to revise my personal list of reasons to quit. Crossed off the list were the lines "to get healthy" and "to feel better". I started to ask, how will quitting make me feel better, and do I even remember what 'better' feels like?
That got me thinking about the small things, including little tidbits that I seem to have forgotten from a life before smoking, such as not having dry lips all the time, or not having to wait for outdoor cafe seating. I hate being relegated to a cold porch during dinner parties, and I can't remember the last time I adopted a big, open-mouthed, grin while being photographed. On the list they went. All sound trite, and perhaps a little vain, but life was simply better without cigarettes.
So, my pledge is this: I will quit smoking. This is a commitment I make to myself and to the life I want to live. I will not beat myself up, or restart my habit, if my resolve weakens after a few beers. This is a long-term commitment; one that will inevitably involve some slip-ups. I will also keep a little piece of paper that simply reads "The Little Things" taped to my iPhone. That way, whenever I check the time or my emails, I will be reminded of the reasons to stick to my pledge to quit.
Wish me luck!
For more information about the health improvements of quitting go to www.quitnow.gov.au or www.quit.org.au