Friday, June 27, 2008

Use "The Force" to Quit Smoking (Special Star Wars Tribute)

Tomorrow (May 19th) has reached near "holiday" status here in the U.S., thanks to George Lucas. Yes, tomorrow is the U.S. opening of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I've got my tickets for opening night!

If you aren't familiar with the Star Wars movie series ( you probably live on another planet. I've been a Star Wars nut ever since I saw the first movie in 1977 at the age of 9. I was blown away by the incredible special effects and story. The mythical story paints a clear picture of the battle of good versus evil, and touches people on many levels. Perhaps that explains at least part of the movie's popularity: Star Wars reflects the emotion and the fear and the excitement and the good and the evil inside each of us.

The Star Wars movies follow the Jedi Knights who possess amazing powers provided by "The Force". Ben Kenobi, one of the Jedi, tells Luke Skywalker what The Force is: "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." Ben goes on to tell Luke, "You must learn the ways of The Force..."

The wisdom of the Jedi and The Force found in the first three Star Wars movies can help you quit smoking if you'll apply that wisdom. You must learn the ways of The Force to quit smoking.

Ben taught Luke about The Force in the first movie, Star Wars. He tells Luke, "A Jedi can feel The Force flowing through him." Luke asks, "You mean it controls your actions?" Ben explains, "Partially. But it also obeys your commands."

The Force will obey your commands to "quit smoking." You are not destined to smoke for the rest of your life. You DO have control over your own destiny and the actions that you take. Use The Force now to take charge of whether or not you smoke or quit.

In the second movie, The Empire Strikes Back, Luke travels to a remote planet to receive training from Yoda, a Jedi master. During the course of Luke's training, Yoda provides many nuggets of wisdom that can help you become a non-smoking Jedi.

"A Jedi must have the deepest commitment. The most serious mind," Yoda tells Luke. The same holds true for you if you want to quit smoking. You must commit yourself fully to the task of quitting. You can't quit halfway. If you plan to quit, you must quit completely. Get serious about your commitment to quit.

Later, Yoda tells Luke "A Jedi's strength flows from The Force, but beware of the dark side." The dark side of The Force is the evil side of The Force. In many ways you might think of the dark side as your smoking addiction, or the cigarettes you smoke, or even the cigarette companies.

Luke asks Yoda, "Is the dark side stronger?"

"No," Yoda responds. "No. Quicker, easier, more seductive." Wow! Doesn't that just about sum up smoking? It's much easier to continue smoking rather than to quit, so seductive is the habit. No one said becoming a smoke-free Jedi would be easy!

Luke then asks Yoda, "But how am I to know the good side from the bad?" Yoda answers, "You will know when you are calm, at peace, passive."

A great way to begin beating your smoking habit it to practice relaxation techniques. If you find yourself giving in to your cravings when you are stressed, you are turning to the dark side! Relax! Breathe deeply. Clear your mind and sit quietly. Learn to control your stress with your mind, not with cigarettes.

One day, after Luke learns to move and float rocks using The Force, his X-Wing fighter spaceship sinks into the swamp near Yoda's home. Luke exclaims, "We'll never get it out now."

Disappointed, Yoda says to Luke, "So certain are you. Always with you what cannot be done."

Luke replies, "Master, moving stones around is one thing. But this is totally different."

Somewhat disgusted by now, Yoda shouts "No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned."

Half-heartedly, Luke says "Alright, I'll give it a try."

"No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is not try," Yoda tells Luke.

How many times have you said I'll TRY to quit smoking, knowing full well that you don't really believe you can quit and don't really plan to quit? You must understand that quitting is not a game. Quitting is real life. If you are going to quit--QUIT! Don't just try. QUIT! If you stumble and start smoking again after quitting then quit again until you quit forever. Quit, or quit not. There is not try.

After Luke "tries" and fails to levitate his X-Wing out of the swamp, he tells Yoda "I can't. It's too big."

Yoda then gives Luke another lesson. "Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? [Yoda is barely two feet tall]. And well you should not. For my ally is The Force, and a powerful ally it is."

The Force is a metaphor for God or religion or faith. Countless smokers have told me how their faith in God has helped them to quit smoking. By placing your faith in a higher power, you allow the infinite power of the universe (whatever you consider that to be--I'm not trying to advocate any particular religion here) to help you quit smoking. You remove the total burden from yourself. You'll gain strength from asking God to help you quit. You can move mountains with the help of your faith and prayer.

Luke didn't have the faith he needed to get his X-Wing out of the swamp. "You want the impossible," he tells Yoda.

Moments later, Yoda effortlessly raises the X-Wing out of the swamp and over to the side. In disbelief, Luke says, "I don't believe it!"

"That is why you fail," Yoda tells him.

Belief is absolutely critical to your success. Studies show that believing that you have the ability to quit is one of the most important indicators of future success. If you believe you have the ability to quit and believe that you will quit, you are much more likely to quit than someone who has no faith in themselves. Believe, and be free of cigarettes!

Later in the movie, Luke sees a vision of his friends, in which their lives are in danger. Luke feels that he needs to cut short his training and go to their aid. Yoda and Ben both encourage Luke to stay and continue with the training, fearing he will be at risk unless he completes his training.

Luke tries to assure them that he is ready. "I feel The Force," he tells them.

"But you cannot control it. This is a dangerous time for you, when you will be tempted by the dark side of The Force," Ben warns.

Similarly, when you are in the process of quitting, you must constantly guard against the dark side of temptation. Don't get sucked in by the notion that you can have "just one" cigarette. Remember, as Yoda says, "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." As time goes by, you will learn how to deal with your cravings and how to handle stress, without smoking. But it takes time. If you smoke just one cigarette, expecting to be able to control your urges, you're in for a real surprise. Just one puff can put you back at a pack-a-day habit in no time.

Luke finally leaves Ben and Yoda and goes to help his friends. He ends up fighting Darth Vader, a Jedi Knight who has turned to the dark side of The Force. Vader's plan is to turn Luke to the dark side and utilize his powers to further his own evil plans. "Join me and together we can rule the galaxy," Vader tempts Luke.

Cigarettes tempt you with inflated claims of looking cool, feeling relaxed and fulfilled. Unfortunately, cigarettes have an ominous dark side. Do I have to spell it out? You know cigarettes cause numerous health problems, cost a lot, and make you smell bad. Make sure you evaluate the temptation for what it really is: the desire for self-destruction.

If only our lives were as simple as buying a movie ticket! Good things in life take effort and work. Apply the lessons here to your own quit smoking program and I think you'll find you can make some of your own special effects!

May The Force be with you!

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