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Sure the health benefits were awesome, but the over all upgrade in quality of life was the real surprise.
All those little things added up significantly to make life better. However, the biggest benefit I found took me completely by surprise and I have never heard anyone talk about it. That surprise was that quiting smoking made me smarter. I can't explain it any other way, but I know my IQ jumped atleast 5 to 10 points when I quit. My brain worked better. Concentrating was easier, sticking with tasks and projects longer was easier, and complex problems were resolved quicker and with greater detail. I imagine some of the increase in mental capacity I noticed can be accredited to the better state of general health after I quit, but I know there was something about getting that addiction out of my system made my entire mental process worked better/faster/more accurate.
Sharing my "How I did it" story...
I think the reason I finally managed it was that I had set the date three or four months before. I looked at my schedule for the year and tried to select a suitable time. This date was two weeks after an annual holiday abroad. In the past I had tried to quit on returning to work after a holiday and found the depression of finishing my holiday and going back to work was just too much. I always weakened. On this occasion I set the date two weeks after my return to give me a chance to get back into the routine.
When I had set the date I told all of my friends and colleagues that I was quitting on that date and explained why. I continued to talk about it during the lead up and when I got back to work. My reason was not so much that they were that interested, it was just to set it up such that failing to quit on that date would have resulted in lots of derision and denting of my pride. It worked for me and I actually found that occasion to be the easiest.
As for finishing things and doing a more complete job, for me, I found that was because my work wasn't constantly interrupted by the next smoke break, but there is definitely more continuity to everything you do once you quit. Your day is no longer broken up into tiny little segments.
If you are a smoker, I encourage you to quit, as Brett said the benefits are not just in your long term health, but right here, right now, quality of everyday life. Today is the first day of the rest of your life indeed.
i quit around 14 years ago - from 60/80 to zero overnight. i read the original allen carr book and used no patches, no substitutes etc.
i did it at a time when i split up from a very significant relationship, i guess i was was in a psychological place where i had to make changes in my life like it or not!
i'm in the art business and watching in slow motion a lit cig roll off the edge of a shelf where i left it and fall slap bang into the middle of a thousand pound (money not weight) piece of paper ... burning a nice brown hole right where it landed. now that was an interesting feeling!
of course the health benefits are huge, i just felt so much better.
appreciating food was a big one too, smoking really deadened my taste buds which came right back to life again (over time) when i stopped.
the biggest benefit to me was the time i saved, smoking took up a lot of time and was a real distraction from everything i did, so i get what brett is saying about getting smarter, i would concur but i'm wondering if it is actually due to just focusing for longer as a result of not stopping for a cig break all the time.
... as for current smokers - please keep it up and keep those taxes rolling in! :)
joking aside, for me the biggest benefit of not smoking is Freedom! freedom from the slavery of smoking, only after becoming a non smoker did i realise how much of a ball and chain it was.
The longest off was 2 years once, thankfully increasing cigarette prices and it becoming less and less sociably acceptable means I will probably stay off this time. Probably. Maybe.
One of the biggest factors helping people to quit now imho is that you cannot smoke in most bars. They have relaxed the rule here in Thailand now which is a shame, but not being able to smoke while enjoying a relaxing drink helps enormously.
Best of luck to anyone trying, I was on 40 a day and have smoked since my teens, so I know it ain't easy but the benefits are worthwhile.
That's four and a half years I've been off the 'evil weed', although I have to hold my hands up in answer to Ken's question. Yes, I still get cravings and, on about three occasions over that time, always when too much alcohol is involved (usually cocktails), I've smoked a cigarette or two.
Have always regretted it the next day - that lingering stale smell around my face, hair, hands and clothes, and a mouth like the bottom of a budgie's cage (although I fully accept that the cocktails might well contribute). Yuk!
The life-changing momentum of that first year of quitting, as described in that thread, continued. Exactly a year after posting it, and thus two years after quitting smoking, I left my job at a London publishing house, I company I'd been with for over 15 years.
Six months later I quit London too and moved to a sleepy suburb in the Netherlands to be with the wonderful woman described in the opening post of that earlier thread. Life is good - very good.
It is no exaggeration to say that quitting smoking was the key to opening up a whole new life, one I could never possibly have imagined.