Smoking Less: The 10 Minute Rule

Keith smoked his first cigarette almost 20 years ago, in his freshman year at university, and wanted to quit for about the same number of years. However, he found no reason to give up the habit.

He smoked for many years and, of course, managed to spoil his health. But then Keith heard that the heart and lungs are restored even in those who – just like himself – cannot do without a pack a day.

He was not ready to quit once and for all: he could not even imagine that he would stop smoking altogether, although he partly wanted to. For starters, he decided to just poison himself less.

If you really want something, make it a rule to wait 10 minutes before succumbing to the temptation. Before they expire, remember the future benefits that will come from rejecting harmful temptation. If possible, distance yourself from the temptation physically (hide the cigarette or bottle, or at least turn away).

The 10 minute rule was perfect for Keith. In truth, he knew he would sometimes succumb to temptation. The 10-minute delay helped him cope with his cigarette cravings and reminded him of his cardiovascular and cancer risks.

Sometimes Keith waited 10 minutes and lit a cigarette, and sometimes he could not stand them either. But the delay reinforced his intention to quit. He also noticed that by saying to himself, “Yes, but after 10 minutes,” he was less panicked and nervous than when he abruptly cut himself off with a firm “no.” It was easier to wait from this, and sometimes he even got distracted and forgot about the cigarette.

Neuroscientists have found that the 10 minute rule changes the way we think about pleasure. The brain perceives it as delayed. The limbic system is less aroused and the powerful impulse of desire is reduced.

When the brain compares the satisfaction of having to wait 10 minutes with more distant rewards, such as better health and a reduced risk of lung cancer from smoking too much, it is much less attracted to the near pleasure.

A few weeks later, Keith complicated the task. Whenever possible, during the 10-minute reprieve, he went to where he could not smoke: to a colleague’s office or to a store. This gave him time to cool down, or at least prevented him from succumbing to temptation. Sometimes he called his wife for moral support. Finally, he decided to double the 10 minute rule.

“If I win the first 10 minutes, I can wait another 10 and smoke only if I really want to.” Very soon the packs were enough for two days. But most importantly, Keith believed that he was able to quit, and began to prepare himself for this.

So, a summary for everyone who wants to smoke less and get rid of other frills:

If quitting bad habits “once and for all” seems like an overwhelming task to you, give yourself a 10-minute reprieve to strengthen your self-control.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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