As I look around today, I find that I’m living in a world that is much different than the one I grew up in. When I was growing up, at least half of the adults I had regular contact with were smokers. Standing in a room filled with stale smoke was the norm. Is it any wonder that I grew up to be a smoker myself?
The problem is that today’s world does not accept smokers at all. We are cast out to stand alone in places where our foul odors won’t offend. I’ve had enough of this, so I’ve made the choice to live a healthier lifestyle. The problem is, I now have a lot of time to fill that used to be spent smoking. This might seem like a silly thing to some people. Most people whine that they don’t have enough time in the day. Smokers have spent years building their lives around a series of five minute breaks that often add up to at least an extra hour each day. The challenge is to fill that newly freed up time with something constructive instead of another harmful habit.
Most people can’t get too excited about filling that time with an extra hour of work. I know that I certainly don’t like the idea of trading my former relaxation time for more drudgery. The trick seems to be finding interesting things to do by yourself. So far, I’ve come up with a few simple distractions that help me to get through my cravings.
One of the best distractions I’ve found is drawing. Ever since I was young I’ve enjoyed doodling, and now I’ve decided to try my hand at actually drawing recognizable sketches. I bought myself a book about pencil sketching and I keep a sketch pad within reach at all times. This actually works really well except for the fact that once I start, I want to keep drawing for longer than a smoke break would have lasted. My right brain kicks in and time starts to fly. This is fine when I’m at home, but it doesn’t work too well when I’m actually at my paying job.
A second helpful “habit” I’m trying to cultivate is socializing with people. That probably sounds silly, but I’ve never been one for small talk. Now when I get the urge for a smoke I try to engage someone who happens to be nearby in conversation. The trick here is to ask them about their life. They’ll usually talk for at least five minutes until my urge to light up passes.
These aren’t perfect solutions. You’ll have to decide what you enjoy enough to get you through the tough times. The key is making it distracting enough so that you aren’t sitting there just dreaming of how good it would feel to light up. I keep reminding myself that millions of people have managed to quit. I have a stubborn streak that doesn’t like failing at something others have done successfully. Think about what motivates you and try to shift your focus to things you enjoy. Eventually, you’ll replace your old habit with something much less harmful that you actually enjoy.