How I did it: I had previously marked this goal as "given up" but am happy to re-open it to mark it as done. I'm just a couple of weeks shy of going a full year without a cigarette, which more than doubles my past records of cessation (5 months being my previous record). About a year ago I caught a really bad chest cold and couldn't smoke anyways. I had also started going to a local Tibetan Buddhist center and was learning meditation and learning about Buddhism. The meditation side was particularly interesting, and since it focuses on the breath, I wanted to be able to breathe clearly in my meditation attempts as I was finding it to be useful. So when the chest cold cleared, I thought "well, I've already gone for a week or two without smoking, may as well keep going."
A lot of my initial focus was on just keeping the streak alive, with a goal of going more than 5 months without a cigarette since that was my last record. I knew that if I caved, even once, that I would have to start over. It also helped that I seemed to be in a better place psychologically than I had been in previous quitting attempts. I would often start back up again as a punishment-reward for myself, a cheap little bit of rebellion. "I know it's bad for me, but it tastes and feels good, and what do I care?" was an attitude that I didn't seem to have as much this time around. I think that the meditation and trying-on of Buddhism helped me there as they were something new in my life and provided distraction. In particular, some of the breathing and other meditation "mindfulness" techniques helped provide an alternate exercise in situations where I may have picked up a cigarette.
Finally, as time stretched on and I made it through the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th months, my main inspiration at that point was that I didn't want to have to "start quitting all over again." I knew how tough it could be and how tough it was going to get, as someone who has lapsed many times before. I didn't want to have to go through that process again. I'm getting older, why waste my time with that? It's not worth it any more. And also, I'm no longer a young man, and I can't keep taking chances with my health. I take enough chances with my lousy diet - it's no use adding to the body's stresses.
I'm someone who LOVED filterless Lucky Strikes, English Ovals, and other cigarettes that were intense. My thinking was - "If I'm going to smoke, I may as well really enjoy it."
Well, in recent years, I noticed that when I smoked filterless cigarettes, my breathing afterwards was increasingly wheezy and raspy. I was starting to feel the physical repercussions. It was nothing alarming, but it was an early signal that perhaps I should cut back. This was still weighing on my mind when I got sick and decided to use that sickness as a chance to try quitting again.
I've been delightfully surprised that over this past year, I've been able to still hang out with my smoker friends and be in smoking situations, and I (generally) haven't wanted to pick it up again. I still have cravings, but they generally don't show up when I'm actually around cigarettes. And those craving are going away. Except when I write or talk about it. Like right now. :) Read how I did it… 18 months ago