“I got my finger on the trigger, so niggaz wonder why, but livin’ in the city is do or die”  -Dr. Dre

It has been a little under a decade since I was smoking two packs of Marlboro Menthol Lights  a day. Never thought it was possible? It is, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but it can be done. I wanted out. I had tried every program in the book with the exception of a hypnotherapist, but for those “exes” out there, you know quitting very rarely sticks on the first few tries. One day, after having “quit” what I estimate to be about seven different times, I finally succeeded.

I did it with the help of a book. The only part of the program I remember was a chapter entitled “Identifying your Triggers”. The chapter was dedicated to guiding you through the process of recording each and every moment you felt the urge to smoke. Then, at the end of one month, you could examine your urges on graph paper and compare and contrast the peaks. Driving a car? Check. After a meal? Check. After..er…kissing? Check. Mentally, once I was able to pit myself against these moments and sit with the process, I was finally able to stop smoking. It has been eight years, and I’ve never felt better. It should be said though that those urges don’t go away, their triggers are never stymied, only muted, if ever so slightly.

Our experiment in simplicity thus far has brought many things to the surface, but as I’ve sat with the process I’m reminded of “the book that shall remain unnamed” on how to quit smoking. Not buying anything is a challenge. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you try it for a month and check back.

Are you back? Good, let’s continue…As the urge to buy comes and goes, instinctively I’m watching the ebb and flow of my desires and noting the triggers. Boredom, the most prominent trigger, just happens to be a little more frequent with the absence of digital entertainment. Often, the trigger is as a solution to a problem. If I just had “it”, then this or that would work better. Those from the depression era very rarely found the answer in a new purchase, but rather through ingenuity.  Other common triggers have been the obvious ads I receive through email, but also billboards, pop ups etc. Loneliness, as a trigger, almost immediately has me reaching for my laptop to see what things I may procure to fill the emptiness. Interestingly, cooking from home more often has been a trigger. As I spend more time in that space I realize everything that it is lacking, some can be fixed by rearrangement but those who know me know it doesn’t stop there. I’ve mentally mapped out a kitchen renovation project that will revolutionize the way our kitchen flows and as a result I’ll probably end up with my own cooking show: Dining with Dave. Or maybe I’ll just find a way to make do with what I have.

Identifying the triggers is the game changer. Now its me versus them. Knowing who they are is almost enough to destroy them. They are nothing but a psychological trick, and I do not like to be tricked. It makes me feel stupid.

This month will be easier, we have committed to not buying anything. Black and white, right? Next month, and the month after will prove more challenging. We’ve both acknowledged that there are many pieces of living this way that we love and hope to preserve with perhaps only a few tweaks. In terms of defeating our dragon, and beating the urges, our newest in-house system includes a 30-day list. When the urge to buy comes along, no matter what the trigger, that item is added to our 30 day list. It sits on the fridge, awaiting its tenure. After 30 days, if the desire is still there then perhaps we will buy it, or maybe relegate it to another 30 days of listdom (Parole DENIED!), just to see. Either way, I’m seeing the benefit of the process and enjoying the ride the whole way there.