The Intelligent Smoker- part two

Your Spoiled Two Year Old Brain

Eric Van Fossen


In part one we discussed the “habit loop” and how a person only needs to change one out of three things to successfully change a habit. The “habit loop” consists of three components, CUE-ACTION-REWARD.

The trick here is to change the ACTION.  Stop doing that old undesirable habit you used to have and switch it to a new desirable habit. It is quite simple really and everybody knows that everyone can come up with some kind of a desirable new “habit” to do when they are CUED to take ACTION.

Some people might like to text a friend a “Hello.”  Someone that wants to get into better physical shape might drop down and give themselves ten pushups. I very much like the idea of singing a verse of your favorite song to yourself. The trick here is to replace that old undesirable ACTION with a new even more rewarding habit. How wonderful would it be to have a friend text you back a “Good Morning!” greeting. Who wouldn’t like to be able to do fifty or even one-hundred pushups by the end of the month? What could be better than having your favorite song running through your mind as you pull into the parking lot at work, or even while doing up the dishes after dinner?

You probably cannot change the various CUES in your life, so just change the ACTION and get an even better REWARD.

There is something else that the soon to be intelligent smoker needs to realize. If a certain CUE caused you to have an ACTION which consisted of smoking a cigarette (or any nicotine delivery system) you always subconsciously thought that YOU were getting the REWARD. You were wrong. You, the real you that knows in your heart that you want to be healthy and live a long a fruitful life…in reality never received any benefit from that cigarette.

From a physiological viewpoint nicotine does nothing to truly relax us. It does however, act as a stimulant.  The “Ahh, that feels good” sensation is because the nicotine gets into your blood stream and goes to the brain. In the brain the nicotine causes the release of a chemical called dopamine. The dopamine is what makes your brain feel good. The dopamine gives the brain the fix that it needs. At this level the brain does not care about what is best for you. The brain simply wants more dopamine via the nicotine that it convinces you to inhale. The brain is like a spoiled two year old child over in the corner throwing a temper tantrum. It will doing everything it can think of to make you give it more nicotine so it can have more of the dopamine which it craves.

It is very much a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde proposition. You can wake up in the morning as Dr. Jekyll and have only the best of intentions, only to have Mr. Hyde take over and cause you to give him the nicotine he needs in order to produce the dopamine rush he so much enjoys.

You can see now that in a sense you are able to split your mind into two separate parts. First is the true inner you that knows what you really want out of your life. This is the deeper you. I sometimes think of it as the place just on the edge of your soul. This is where your inner, deeper hopes and desires wait to be fulfilled. Then there is the brain. The brain is the spoiled two year old having its temper tantrum because it wants more dopamine. It harasses you until you give in to it and let it have its’ way just so you can have some peace and quiet for a while.

The brain could care less what your inner dreams and desires are. The brain has no concern for your inner true self. The brain wants what it wants and only what it wants. It wants its dopamine, via the nicotine that it tricks you into absorbing.

Recognizing that your mind is of two different components is the true gift here. There is the true inner deeper you and then there is your brain which only wants its dopamine fix. Knowing this buys you time, as well as distance, between not smoking and what you thought was a craving that you were having. You were not having the craving. Your spoiled self-centered brain was having the craving.

So you can see that you never really got any REWARD from the smoking. Your brain got all of the REWARD and all you got were chemical carcinogens, toxins and a foul odor about you. Don’t forget you also paid through the nose for these things.

So now choose an ACTION that will give YOU the reward- not that spoiled two year old brain over there in the corner. Fortunately, nothing stays two years old forever.