Letters

How To Quit Bad Habits (Like Smoking)?

person smoking cigarette
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Question: How can I quit a bad habit, such as smoking?

Answer: If not already aware, do search and read up on the harms. It is good to do so even if already kind of aware, as you might not be fully aware of the harms, which is why you keep entertaining the habit, with little sense of urgency to quit it.

As the Buddha continually reminded us, life is impermanent, able to end at any time. Thus, why hasten the shortening this already short life with each stick of cigarette? The more addictive a bad habit is, the more urgent is it to break it. Already with the Three Poisons (三毒) of greed, hatred and delusion (贪嗔痴), why further them with greedy and deluded attachment to smoking?

(Incidentally, euphemism for cigarettes is ‘香烟’ or ‘fragrant smoke’, while it is actually ‘臭烟’ or ‘smelly smoke’ to most.) Smoking wastes time, energy and money, pollutes the body within and the environment without. If ‘relaxation’ is wanted, there are many healthy and free methods. They should be tried as the best way to end a bad habit is to substitute it with a good habit. At the saying goes, ‘One nail drives out another.’

For example, an easy way to facilitate quitting of smoking is to sincerely practise mindfulness of Buddha (念佛) immediately when the urge to smoke arises… till the urge subsides, as replaced by peace of mind. You can reflect, ‘Since the Buddhas do not smoke, why should I smoke, which will only obscure and pollute my precious and pure Buddha-nature?’

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