Essay on Behavior Modification Project

I don’t remember exactly when I took to smoking or how the habit had developed in me. However I remember well that my pattern of smoking has been fairly consistent, at least for the last couple of years, smoking about six cigarettes a day. There are of course days when I have smoked a couple of cigarettes more or less too. Most of my friends don’t smoke and they don’t like smoking in their presence, although they wouldn’t object it on the face. I am aware of the risks of smoking, its association with cancer and strokes, and had long decided to abandon it.

I had convinced myself that I need to give up smoking. However I didn’t have a plan or deadline for it; not that I was ignorant of this fact. I knew that to get rid of any habit, one should have a concrete plan and an anticipated schedule. In my mind, I believed I would soon be implementing one for myself. Unfortunately I did nothing in an effort to quit smoking, only compensating it with a feeling that I have a strong untested will power and can easily quit whenever I wanted. It never struck me that the quitting should start now.

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It so happened, that I had an opportunity last month to attend a seminar on ‘Modern lifestyle trends and its impact on health’. Here the speaker emphasized that habits like smoking, alcoholism, drugs, sexual attitudes can only be reversed when it is within a reversible range. He said it was his personal opinion that chronic addicts cannot come out of it, no matter what the de-addiction programs he or she goes through. He then went on to give scary facts that awaited the pursuers of these habits. This was when I got really scared, and decided to call it a day.
I knew I was not a chronic smoker although I thanked God; he didn’t define a chronic smoker. I realized and accepted the fact that I had not made even the slightest attempt, to give up smoking. I took a resolution that quitting efforts would start right here and right now. I was careful enough not to fall back on Behavior Modification Project 3 my will power and put it through an acid test, by deciding to quit immediately. I began to plan a way of achieving a no smoking state in a gradual way. I was happy that although my efforts to quit smoking had been late, it was being done cautiously.
Had I taken an unplanned and arbitrary decision, like stopping instantly; and if it had rebounded, there were chances that I would probably never get out of it. For the first week, I had decided that I would smoke no more than six cigarettes a day, so as to average about six or lesser number per day. For the second week, I had planned a reduction of two cigarettes a day, so as to average about four or less per day. Then the most important third week, where I further reduced the number of cigarettes to just two per day. Then the hopefully successful fourth week, where I would be a non-smoker.
Although I was confident, I was apprehensive of the possibility of achieving these goals. I recollected the times when I didn’t have a cigarette and desperately needed one, and to the extent I went, to get one. As my goal to quit smoking is to be achieved only in stages, I thought it necessary to reward myself whenever I reach the goal, for the week. This would not only be an encouragement for me, but also an acknowledgement of meeting target for that week. I decided to treat myself to a half hour, either in a flight simulator or with friends.
This was my roadmap to quit smoking, planned in detail. The first week wasn’t difficult as it was almost like any before; the only difference being that it should not exceed six any day. However, I considered this week as a crucial one because this was the first week I was ever under smoking conditions. I smoked only about five for most days of this week. The second week was more difficult, as I could smoke only four or less. Here too I tried to restrict to the least possible and I smoked less than the target. I smoked only about three per day for most days, touching four only twice that week.
I allowed and enjoyed the treat I promised myself, after each week. Then came the ultimate third week Behavior Modification Project 4 where I had to be more resistive to temptations; just two cigarettes a day. It was indeed difficult but I was determined, and knew it was worth it. On the third day of the third week, I had a feeling that things might become extremely difficult, and even impossible in the fourth week. Third week looked achievable, but I feared the fourth ultimate week, where I had to be without cigarettes.
I realized, I needed any possible help to keep me off cigarettes. I joined a meditation class by the mid of the third week. By the time fourth week started, I felt I could comfortably keep off cigarettes for the week. I didn’t feel the urge to smoke one that entire week. In fact, I would say, the fourth week was the most comfortable and a confident one as I felt that smoking was no longer a problem with me. When I went for my treat that weekend, I sensed the feel of being a non-smoker, for the first time.

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