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When my dad decided to quit smoking, he didn't throw out the pack of cigarettes he was currently in the middle of. Instead, he put them up on the shelf next to his work desk. The pack wasn't totally in his face, nor was it out of sight. Despite the visual reminder being present, he broke his years' long pack-a-day habit.

Eventually - long after he stopped smoking - he threw the pack out, as part of his usual housekeeping.

I thought of this when I decided to quit social medias over the past two years. I bring it up now because it's something I think about in regard to how centrally important mindset is when trying to break a habit, or work on something of deeper value.

I wonder now too about the asymmetry in the ease of adoption vs. difficulty of opting out with smart phones and social media. Anecdotally, it just seems that you can nearly unconsciously start using a smartphone or say, sign up for instagram. But after a relatively quick onboarding, the effort required to opt out of these things feels akin to doing actual, hard work.

I've never smoked, but I did the same thing with snacks when I deliberately quit years ago (I don't avoid it now, but I'm more healthy about it).

I kept a pint of ice cream in the freezer and a bag of chips in the cupboard. The reasoning for me was: I'll never impulse buy snacks while at the store, because I already have it at home.

And if I haven't eaten out of my pint of ice cream, then I haven't eaten any ice cream.

It's like knowing you have these traps to avoid, but if you just keep one very close, that's the only one you need to consider, and then all the other ones disappear. It's definitely a focus thing for me, don't know if it was the same for your dad.

> It's like knowing you have these traps to avoid, but if you just keep one very close, that's the only one you need to consider

Love that roundup of this technique. Coincidentally enough my dad also used this same aid to quit smoking. I saw some slight sense but never enough to unpack it myself.

I've done this as well. I actually have a pack sitting around somewhere. Quitting never felt possible when I told myself I'd never have a cigarette again. I'm pretty sure I'll have one again, but not today. This is what I tell myself every day, and other than really crazy bar nights, I've been pretty good at perpetually procrastinating on smoking.

> the asymmetry in the ease of adoption vs. difficulty of opting out

A term related to this idea is dark pattern.

This is a good overview of the idea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxkrdLI6e6M

Wow - thanks for this. Hadn't heard this term before, but certainly covers problems that are brought up by design ethicists. Literally laughed out loud at how hard it is to close an amazon account. And I thought it was bad that the New York Times made me call them to cancel my digital subscription.

Makes sense. Getting rid of something doesn't teach you not to use it when it's there.

If you can not use it when it is there, you've really won.

This is perhaps the best reason why, unlike a very large proportion of my family, I've never had a problem with alcohol.

It's always around. I can have a drink whenever I want (and I mean, I have drinks socially, I usually end up playing bartender at parties, that sort of thing). But it is, and always has been, something that happens on my terms.

I've heard good results from restricting the time you can use something, but not the amount. Don't smoke before 8am. Push that you 8:30. Push it to 9. Eventually you quit.

I wouldn't be strong enough to make this work. Quitting smoking was exactly opposite for me. After several unsuccessful attempts to quit, my frustration grew bigger and bigger and I finally had to say to myself "I WILL NEVER EVER SMOKE AGAIN", and threw away remaining cigarettes. Everything was easy after that. My brain switched mode to "NEVER EVER" and cravings stopped completely. That was back in 1995.

Haha. I'm not your dad (I'm older). But I did nearly the same thing to stop smoking. I tried several times after finishing a pack. It didn't work. I had success when I tossed half a pack on a high shelf. When I got the urge I'd have to climb a chair to get them. That required enough time and effort to cause me to reconsider.

My grandfather did the same thing. Carried a half-empty pack around in his jacket for weeks after he decided to stop. I always thought that was the hard way to do it, but maybe not.

"they're there if I want them, but I don't - and that's OK."

Those first few weeks are the most difficult part of the process.

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