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Zen Habits | I Tried to Quit & It’s Too Hard!| Marathi stories | Hindi Stories | Gujarati Stories

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I Tried to Quit & It’s Too Hard!

You might have uttered the title of this post before — I know I did when I tried to quit smoking. And when I considered giving up meat, cheese, sugar, and more.

Quitting something can seem incredibly hard, so much so that we don’t even want to put ourselves through the suffering.

Have you tried giving up alcohol? Marijuana? Biting your nails? Complaining? Cigarettes? Junk food?

I can confirm that it’s hard to quit an addiction, but there are several things that stand in our way:

  1. The physical addiction — this is hard but it only lasts a few days. Fortunately, I can tell you that if you really put your mind to it, you can do anything hard for a few days.
  2. The reliance on it as a coping mechanism — this is a problem because we’re so used to using the addiction as a crutch when we’re stressed or sad or things are difficult or we need to socialize. Fortunately, there are plenty of other healthier ways to cope.
  3. You don’t believe you can do it. This is the worst one, because if you give in to this obstacle, the other two are not conquerable. Fortunately, this one is entirely self-caused, and so the solution is entirely within our hands.

Because it’s so important, we’re going to focus on the last obstacle first.

You Think You Can’t

You’ve heard of the Little Engine That Could … well, our brains are the opposite. They’re the little engines that think they can’t.

And they are amazing at rationalizing why.

Just try giving up something that you rely on (this is what my Year of Living Without is about). At first, you might start to think, “This isn’t too bad … in fact, I’m kinda excited about it!”

But then, when things get a bit difficult, your mind tends to think things like, “This is too hard! I can’t do it! I want to give up!” And then you start to ask, “Why the hell am I doing this to myself? Life is too short to suffer so much.” Then you think, “Just once, one little time, won’t matter. No one will know. One exception won’t hurt anything. It’s the long run that matters.”

Except that one exception does hurt. It leads you to the same rationalization the next time (“One more time won’t hurt”) and then in your mind, you’re not quitting anymore.

Our minds get in our way.

So what can we do? Well, luckily this is entirely fixable. We just have to 1) examine our beliefs, and 2) change them.

Yes, our beliefs are changeable. I know because I’ve changed numerous beliefs, and tested those new beliefs with self-experiments, and found the new ones to be true. The old beliefs will be true, too, if you believe them. Experience will bear out the beliefs getting in your way, if you believe them. But experience can prove better beliefs to be true too, if you’re willing to give them a try.

Let’s take some examples of beliefs that stand in our way:

  • Old belief: I’m a smoker who is trying to quit but it’s hard. New belief: I don’t smoke. I’m a non-smoker. It’s who I am. (Change your self-identity.)
  • Old belief: I can’t do it if it’s too hard. New belief: I’ve done hard things before. I can do this if it’s hard. In fact, I’ll take it as a personal challenge.
  • Old belief: It won’t hurt to do it just once. New belief: It will hurt my trust in myself, which is more important to me than some momentary pleasure.
  • Old belief: I need my ___ (cigarette, beer, meat, cheese, sweets). New belief: I don’t need it. It’s unnecessary and causing me harm.
  • Old belief: I have a complicated emotional past with food and can’t do it. New belief: I can focus on the moment, instead of the past. I have the power to decide what goes in my mouth. It’s not complicated, it’s simple — one step at a time.
  • Old belief: This makes me feel better (comforted, pleasured, joy, etc). New belief: It actually makes me feel worse. I don’t want to do that to myself. I’m going to love myself by doing things that are better for me.

These are only examples — there may be numerous other beliefs that you have about the issue of quitting. But you can’t change them if you don’t know they’re there. Pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself, examine your beliefs, and hold them lightly. They aren’t necessarily true — and in fact, I don’t believe they’re true at all.

It’s just the scared child in you wanting to be comforted.

The Physical Addiction

The suffering of withdrawing from physical addiction really only lasts a few days. I’ve seen it with alcohol and drug addiction (in others close to me) and I’ve gone through it with cigarettes. It’s a tough time.

But do you know what’s tougher? Going through pregnancy and labor (based on helping my wife through those), running a marathon or ultramarathon or doing some other physical challenge. Starting your own business or going on stage or cramming for the bar exam or going through a tough disease or helping a loved one who is dying or raising a child.

These are things many of us have done — not all of them, but perhaps one or two. And if you haven’t done these things, you’ve done other hard things. Hard things aren’t things to be dreaded. We can make it through them, and be stronger and better off having done it.

Some tips to get you through a hard few days of overcoming physical addiction:

  • Be accountable. Tell others you’re doing it, and ask them to hold you accountable. Just telling them won’t get you through it, but knowing they’re watching and checking on you and encouraging you will.
  • Have support. Ask a few close friends to support you. Call on them when you get strong urges. Ask for their help. Lean on them.
  • Distract yourself. Keep yourself busy. Don’t dwell on the suffering. Do stuff.
  • Create your environment. Get rid of the cigarettes or sugar. Don’t go out with friends if you’re trying to quit alcohol or cigarettes or junk food — just for a few days. Stock up on healthy stuff. Make your environment friendly to your change.
  • Get good at getting through an urge. An urge isn’t an absolute command. It’s an itch. You can overcome it. Watch the urge, let it rise, and know that it will pass in a minute. Get through it. Then you’re good.

Find the strategies that work for you, but you can do it.

Your Coping Mechanism

One of the biggest problems with quitting an addiction is that you use it to cope with real problems. When you are stressed, or sick, or sad, or depressed, or going through a crisis, or lonely, or need to socialize in an uncomfortable situation … you use the addiction to cope.

But it’s only a crutch. You can cope without it. You just need to find new strategies.

A few strategies for coping that might help:

  • Stress: I’ve learned to use exercise, meditation, and simplifying as ways to cope with stress. Going for a run or a walk have helped me tremendously. Talking to other people about your stressful problems also help. So does a mindful cup of tea.
  • Sad: When I’m sad, I find things in my life to be grateful for. I connect with loved ones. I acknowledge my feelings and realize that it’s OK to be sad sometimes — it reminds you that you’re human. Then I take action and find something I’m passionate about.
  • Lonely: Actually, while most people would seek the company of others (which isn’t a bad idea), I like to learn to keep myself company. I’m great company when I want to be — I play, I imagine, I write and read and meditate and learn.
  • Crisis: When there’s a crisis, does leaning on an unhealthy addiction actually make it better? Only in that it gives you a temporary reprieve (going out to have a smoke or a drink) or temporary pleasure (having a cupcake or soda). They don’t take care of the problem, and can actually make it worse (try solving a crisis while inebriated). Instead, allow yourself the reprieve without the addiction — take a walk or meditate. Getting away from the crisis, even for a few minutes, can give you a breather and some perspective. Then figure out what you can do, let go of what you can’t control, and take one action.
  • Need to socialize: Often we use smoking or drinking or eating as ways to lubricate awkward social situations. But they’re just crutches — you can actually do without them and get stronger without them. You can socialize without these things — try it once and see. You’ll get better at socializing if you do without the crutches.
  • Sick: Unhealthy addictions don’t help you when you’re sick. Shoveling junk food into your face when you’re sick (I’ve done it many times) might make you feel comforted, but you aren’t doing your health any favors. Instead, nurture yourself. Give yourself some healthier food to fuel the healing process. Give yourself a rest, and a hug.

These strategies can work, if you believe you can do without the addictions. So go back to the previous section (You Think You Can’t) if you’re having troubles.

Final Words

Quitting something can be hard, it’s true. But not quitting them is harder — you have to live with health problems (or other problems) for the rest of your life. That’s years of pain vs. a few days or weeks of struggle. To me, the choice is clear — choose yourself.

Zen Habits

Leo Babuata
Chapters
Neither Averting Nor Craving in Each Moment
How Taking Care of My Finances Changed My Life
Tips for Traveling with Kids
My Grand Travel Experiment
The Parent I Aspire to Be
The Best & Less-than-Best Motivations for Learning
The Miracle of Suspending Mis-Belief
7 Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People
Finding Motivation on Important But Non-Urgent Tasks
Learning Tips for the Top 8 Learning Challenges
The 30-Day Learning Challenge
The Place Where You Are
Feeling Determined to Change
Practicing Non-Judgment
Hold Your Own Feet to the Fire
Don’t Waste Your Opportunity
How to Beat Procrastination with Daily Training
The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content
A Simple, Powerful Self-Compassion Method
When Others Frustrate You
Your Internet Habits Create Your Reality
The Case for Replacing Exercise with Play
Leave Yourself Wanting More
Fail Faster at Habits
The Anti-Bucket List
Getting Started with the Discipline Habit
The Case for Caring About Your Work
Questions of Priority
The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More
Pare Down with the Declutter Habit
You’re Not Doing Life Wrong
Getting Lost in Just Doing
An Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit
The Source of Contentment
Savor Discipline: Merge the Interests of Your Future & Present Selves
What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It”
The Things That Get in the Way of Doing
The Girl Who Saw Through the Illusions
A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating
Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself
My Typical Day: How I Get People to Think I’m Productive
The Contentment Habit
The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books
In Praise of Limits
The Art of Being My Dad
5 Ideas to Create an Amazing 2015
Essential Zen Habits of 2014
Karate Chop
Practicing Slowness & Being Present
Overwhelmed by All the Changes You Want to Make
My 2014 Successes and Failures
Finding the Motivation to Change Your Entire Life
When You’re Lonely
The Brain’s Fast Mode
5 Questions to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays
The Zen Habits Holiday Gift Guide
The Four Hidden Habit Skills
The Power of Delay
Overwhelmed & Rushed? Do a Stress Assess
Writer as Coder: The Iterative Way to Write a Book
Please Support the Zen Habits Book
Are You a Lift or Drag Force?
When Resistance Smacks You in the Face
When Your Plate is Too Full
The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit
The Zen Habits Book is Almost Done
A Quick Guide to Gaining Confidence When You Socialize
The Empty Container
The Realization
A Guide to Changing Self-Destructive Behaviors
Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation
It’s Not Too Late to Change Bad Habits
The Smart Way to Stick to Habits
My Most Effective Learning Tools
What I Do When I Fail
How to Put Your Writing in Public
The Productive Sprint
The Biggest Reasons You Haven’t Changed Your Habits
Seized by the Thunderhold of Fear
What to Eat for Fat Loss
The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others
A Brief Guide to Overcoming Instant Gratification
How to Get Motivated After a Vacation
7 Strategies for Facing Your Internet/TV Addiction
How to Breathe
7 Discipline-Mastering Practices
7 Rules That Keep My Life Simple
An Education in the Majestic Sierra Nevada
The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes
How to Believe in Yourself
Don’t Waste a Moment
How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach
How to Be Great
Making Yourself Work
Inhabit the Moment
How to Master the Art of Living
The Delusional Fantasies We Live With Each Day
Living the Simple Life
How to Be Prepared for Anything
Turn Toward the Problem
The End of the Day Philosophy
The Painful Beauty of Impermanence
How to Change Other People
Pursuing Happiness When It’s Already Within You
The Quickstart Guide to a Decluttered Home
Parental Zen: How to Keep Your Cool as a Parent
Looking for Love
How to Stop Your Habit Changes From Getting Derailed
Why We Have Regret
The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons
A Call for Revolt: Advertising is the Anti-Minimalism
The Frustratingly Slow Pace of Making Changes
My Struggles with Eating Boring Food
The No Procrastination Challenge
Creating a Lovely Morning
A Father’s Manifesto: Raising Young Men Who Respect Women
Turn Inspiration Into Action
Coming Back From a Setback
The Gift
A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life
No Excuses: Minimalism with Kids
How to Make a Marriage Work
Love Notes
Flavorless: My Month of Food Boringness
The Letting Go Ebook, Free
The Miracle of the Self-Compassion Habit
How I Tackle a Big Writing Project
The Habit Action List
The Reality of This Moment
Confidence in Your Business
10 Ways to Do What You Don’t Want to Do
On Making It Through Tough Journeys
The Hard Stuff Often Matters Most
What to Think About During Exercise
You’ll Be OK
The Most Important Two Minutes of Your Life
A Call for Compassion for the Defenseless
The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome
You’re Not Worse Than Other People
Being Mindful of Your Stress
What if You Didn’t Have to Worry About Yourself?
The Universe of a Single Task
Simplifying Is Painful
Becoming Emotionally Self-Reliant
How I Cleaned House & Simplified My Work Life
The Busy Person’s Guide to Reducing Stress
My Month Without a Smartphone
What I’ve Learned as a Writer
What the Exercise Habit Did For Me
Fear is the Root of Your Problems
This Moment
36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits
The 3 Do-What-You-Love Conundrums
How I Conduct My Business
Constant Task Switching
The Habits of Five Amazing Founders
The Incredible Importance of Sleep for Habits & Motivation
What Really Motivates Us to Stick to a Project?
I Tried to Quit & It’s Too Hard!
Unwired: A Month With Limited Internet, & Now No Cell Phone
Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem
Letting Go of Judging People
Don’t Scratch the Itch
Become Happy in the Face of Physical Misery
How Repetition Can Kickstart a Habit
Zen Productivity
When You’re Feeling Self-Doubt & a Lack of Motivation
The Child That Holds Us Back
Stateless Mindset
My Month of (Almost) No Internet
12 Changes for 2014
Essential Zen Habits of 2013
The Fear of Being Alone
The Calm Approach
Things Every Man Should Own
Family Gatherings: The Ultimate Mindfulness Training Ground
Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled
A Method to Find Balance
16 Surprising Lessons from My First 50-Mile Ultramarathon
The Simple Fitness Habit Holiday Challenge
Struggles with My Morning Internet Fast
Surrender, Mindfulness & Entrepreneurship
How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating, & Love Letting Go
Finding Focus
When You Run Out of Ideas
The Necessary Art of Subtraction
Jealousy & Suffering
How Creativity Works, & How to Do It
Self-Discipline in 5 Sentences
Make It Your Job
Developing Selfless Compassion
Lyrical Learning, & Why We Learn Habits Wrong
A Month Without Sugar
Why I Read (+ a Dozen Book Recommendations)
12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools
Burn Down the Farm
My Most Minimal Travel Setup Yet
The Exquisite Habits of the Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee
3 Little Tricks to Deal With People Who Offend You
My Healthiest Travel Routine Yet
Startup Founder Megan Casey’s Habits of Priorities
My Pursuit of the Art of Living
A Month Without TV or Video
The Way of No Debt
Letting Go: How to Live With the Loss of a Loved One
The Way to Be
Ramit Sethi’s Entrepreneurial Habits
The Time to Shut Down
The Pain & Beauty of Life Changes
8 Creativity Lessons from a Pixar Animator
Zen Mountain: Leave It All Behind
Overcoming the Social Costs of Being Different
Finding Quiet and Mindfulness Through Food
My Failed Month of ‘No Sitting’
The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life
Liking Healthy Foods is a Choice
Unschoolery: My New Blog on Unschooling
My Advice for Starting a Business
Creating Your Habit Environment
Travel Lessons with My Family
Easier Decision-Making: Conduct Experiments
Simplify: Let Go of Your Crutches
The Fear of Being Found a Fraud
The Flexible Mind
Declutter Your Life
A Month Without Coffee
The Healthful Vegan Diet
Living the Quiet Life
The Art of Tasting Chocolate Mindfully
Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life
The Habits of Happiness
How to Keep Habits Going During Travel
A Year of Living Without
The Key Habits of Organization
I Failed
Vegan Guide to San Francisco
The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others
A Secret to Dad Greatness
Habits: A Simple Change in Mindset Changes Everything
The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now
6 Steps To Being More Creative
How I Finally Faced My Weight & Debt Problems
Working with the Obstacles in Your Path
9 Rules for a Simpler Day
The Little Book of Contentment
The Obstacle is the Path
5 Lessons in Contentment from Billionaires Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger
Smile in Each Moment
A Guide to Practical Compassion
6 Steps To Healing Yourself
The 7-Day Vegan Challenge
Why You Should Write Daily
Achieving Without Goals
Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else)
Habit Mastery: Creating the New Normal
Defeat Distraction: Refocusing with Purpose
Expanding the Envelope: A Method for Beating Anger
A Guide to Practical Contentment
The Practice of Work Mind & Vacation Mind, Simultaneously
How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen
Quitting Your Habits
The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers
How To Make It Impossible To Fail
The Not Knowing Path of Being an Entrepreneur
How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide
Getting Your Family On Board with Life Changes
How to Stick to a Habit When Life Falls Apart
Zen Mind in the Middle of Chaos & Stress
Create a Sacred Space in Your Heart
Meditation: The Most Fundamental Habit
Creating the Genuine Connections We Long For
Tremors of Psychitude: One Little Trick to Find Purpose and Motivation
Create the Habits of Being Lean, in 7 Years
Walled-in: Life Without Facebook
The 7 Habits of Calmness
The Four Habits that Form Habits
Advice to My Kids
My 10 Essential Email Habits
The Daily Checklist
Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide
The Meditation Diet: How I Lost 60+ lbs. by Savoring
The Power of Habit Investments
Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe
The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early
Do Less: A Short Guide
How to Savor Life
What We Lack in a Hyperconnected World
Simplify the Internet
12 Rules to Live By
The New Rules of Fitness for 2013
52 Changes for 2013
The Unprocrastination Month, and the Relaunch of the Sea Change Program
Essential Zen Habits of 2012
The Other Person is Never the Problem
The Do Plan, or Why We Know But Don’t Do
28 Brilliant Tips for Living Life
The Clutter-free Holiday Guide
The Little Trick to Make Any Moment Better
Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck
The Work You Love is Waiting For You
The 7-Step Method to Find Focus for Writing
The Buy-Nothing Holiday Survival Guide
Challenge: Buy Nothing Until 2013
How to Learn Anything
Shaken By Life’s Beauty, Shaken
Untrack: Letting Go of the Stress of Measuring
15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit
How to Make Health Insurance a Bad Bet
Why the Fitness Habit is More Important Than the Plan
The Willingness to Think Differently
Create a Superhealth Community
A Vegan Tour of NYC

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