How Quitting Smoking Has Changed My Life

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Years of smoking ingrains behaviors and thought patterns that are more about addiction than they are about our true feelings and preferences. 

Once we quit, we're often surprised at the changes in attitude we experience regarding smoking, and life in general.

Steve, a member of the About Smoking Cessation support forum, some recently-new (and some not-so-new) ex-smokers gathered to share how smoking cessation has changed the way they think and act. 

Their responses are posted below Steve's question, and provide a glimpse into how positively our lives are affected by smoking cessation.

From Steve:  

"When we smoked we had a certain mindset. When we quit and win our freedom from addiction, our mindset changes. What is the biggest change or transformation in thought you've gone through since you quit smoking?"

Transformations Brought on By Quitting

  • "I always said that I loved smoking. After I quit I came to realize how much I really don't like it! I haven't become that bad ex-smoker (you know the one) yet, but give me a few more years!" ~ Steve
  • "At 10 months quit, I now actually am more confident and more disciplined in my thinking. When I make a decision now, I take my time to think of all the possibilities. I feel stronger in my resolve to stay quit as well. It amazes me how proud I am of my ability to finally feel that I will stay quit and succeed in staying quit. For long term smokers like myself (44 years) I really never ever thought I could ever do this but joining this forum was the extra ammunition I needed to succeed. My thinking has been changed forever." ~Deb
  • "I think I care more about myself now: My health, I stand up for myself when appropriate, I feel like there are more possibilities out there now without my smoking monkey on my back." ~Linda
  • "I learned that I don't need cigarettes to process when I am sad, stressed, happy, anxious, bored, surprised, angry, afraid, impatient, nervous, confused, lost, or any other emotion. The only thing having a cig did was temporarily reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and allow me to hide my emotions behind a veil of smoke. That's it...that's all." ~Jenn
  • "I am simply a different person than I was on Feb. 28, 2013. Since quitting smoking I am more conscious of what I eat. I lead a more healthy lifestyle. I'm a more kind, thoughtful, and patient person than when I was smoking. I like who I have become rather than the person I was being ruled by a cigarette...I'm so glad to be on the other side...I am content." ~Gail
  • "The reality check after I read on the NRT patches that patch exposure can kill small house pets and children. Something that lethal, without even the match, blows my mind. When hiking or walking around the property, I bring little trash bags along with me now to try to pick up after litterers (trash as well as cigarette butts). It's amazing how throwing a filter into water can kill a fish, a salamander, and other small aquatic wildlife. When I'm feeling healthy and can get out and about, I guess I've kind of made it my mission to stop others from hurting wildlife that didn't choose to smoke or come into contact with poison in the first place." ~Rose
  • "I lead quite a busy life. Never had time for much while smoking because of all the "smoke time" I needed. Now, I can just "do" things and I don't have to sit and smoke away while I "think" about it. Having said that I still battle procrastination to a point...but it is much improved." ~Vivienne
  • "Quitting smoking and becoming a member of this forum changed me in several ways, but I believe that increased empathy, the ability to be able to put myself in someone else's shoes was a major one. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is proven here day after day: 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'" ~Dee
  • "I am a new quitter. I have been nicotine free for 24 days! In this short time I have noticed changes in my outlook. I find myself having more confidence---like if I can quit smoking, I can accomplish other things I may have thought impossible! This new feeling is a lovely and unexpected surprise." ~Mmac
  • "I have gone through so many transformations in the past [smoke-free] 8 months and I am sure I will continue to change several more times but today, I feel confident in myself and I feel gratitude for having found such a great group of people to get me here. The confusion, anger, and fear that I had at the beginning of my quit are gone - hallelujah!" ~Peggy
  • "I think one change for me was finding peace in solitude. Instead of taking drags on a cigarette, I'm finding the peace and calm of deep breaths. Instead of a haze of smoke, I'm seeing clearly. And I have developed more patience." ~Andrea
  • "For me, the change seems to be evolving. I guess that this evolution first became apparent to me at about month six of my quit. I suddenly wasn't depressed anymore. And I figured that this was because my brain had adjusted to having a normal level of dopamine for the first time in 35 years.
  • "The second sign of the change was when I became aware that I could get a level of inner peace though deep breathing at about month ten. And it keeps getting better. I've never felt better physically in my life. I don't want to sound overconfident but I really can't look at a pack of cigs. anymore without seeing them as a poison that I wish to have no part of. Getting here really did take a whole year and it does still amaze me a bit.
  • "But more than anything else I want to stay on this journey to see just how much better it really can get." ~Rick

​​Closing Thoughts

As smokers, most of us think that quitting smoking will make life dull and less fulfilling. After all, cigarettes are with us all day, every day. The thought of not having them strikes fear in our hearts.

The reality of smoke-free life is quite the opposite. Once we begin to recover from nicotine addiction, benefits we didn't expect start to emerge, and we are able to settle into our new lives comfortably. It doesn't happen overnight, but it WILL happen if you're patient and allow yourself the space and time needed to heal from this addiction.

Don't let fear of life without cigarettes deter you from getting started with smoking cessation. The rewards outweigh the discomforts by a long shot.

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