A Radically New Way to Quit Smoking
Smoking kills. We all know it.
The last 50 years have seen an explosion of anti-smoking campaigns as public health officials realize that smoking is a chief cause of cancer, cardiovascular illness and a host of other diseases.
To some extent these campaigns have worked: We are seeing a dramatic reduction in smoking among younger generations. Good progress, but frankly it isn’t enough. Smoking remains the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. 42 million adults in this country are smokers,1 and tobacco use accounts for 1 out of every 5 deaths in the nation.2
The biggest problem that anti-smoking advocates face is that quitting is so hard. Even the best smoking-cessation programs only work for 10 to 15 percent of people who try them.
But now there is a new way forward.
Investigating commonalities in modalities
We practice a kind of hypocrisy in the behavioral health area that’s not only embarrassing but counterproductive.
Much of modern evidence-based psychotherapy has focused on the use of concepts like mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion. This trend stretches across many different psychological modalities from the mindfulness-based cognitive therapies, to dialectical behavior therapy, to compassion focused therapy, to acceptance and commitment therapy, and more. And psychotherapeutic practice is trending in this direction for good reason: Science shows these techniques work to mitigate human suffering.
Just because you’re not sick, doesn’t mean you’re healthy.
We are used to that idea in physical health. Being cancer free is not the same as being fit—you have to take the steps needed to develop your physical strength, endurance, and flexibility. Not having the flu is great, but vigor depends on eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Physical health, we know, goes far beyond the absence of illness.
The clarity we have with physical health, however, vanishes once we get to our own emotional, psychological, and social life. For most of us it’s not even clear what prospering means in these areas, never mind how to produce it. If we aren’t depressed, or anxious, or addicted, we’re doing okay, right? If we have a good job, and people respect us, that’s about it, isn’t it?
Ah, no. It isn’t. Read more
Is it important to love yourself?
It seems that depends on how you do it.
Few concepts in popular psychology have gotten more attention over the last few decades than self-esteem and its importance in life success and long-term mental health. Of course, much of this discussion has focused on young people, and how families, parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors can provide the proper psychological environment to help them grow into functional, mature, mentally stable adults.
Research shows that low self-esteem correlates with poorer mental health outcomes across the board1, increased likelihood of suicide attempts2, and difficulty developing supportive social relationships.3 Research also shows that trying to raise low self-esteem artificially comes with its own set of problems, including tendencies toward narcissism, antisocial behavior4, and avoiding challenging activities that may threaten one’s self-concept.5
This division in the research has led to a division amongst psychologists about how important self-esteem is, whether or not it’s useful to help people improve their self-esteem, and what the best practices are for accomplishing that.
In one camp, you have people who believe improving self-esteem is of paramount importance. On the other side of the fence are those who feel the whole concept of self-esteem is overrated and that it’s more critical to develop realistic perceptions about oneself.
But what if we’ve been asking the wrong questions all along? What if the self-esteem discussion is like the proverbial finger pointing at the moon? Read more
I recently chatted with Barry Daniel of The Middle Way Society, an organization whose aim is to develop an integrated approach to living a more ethical life avoiding dogma or any appeal to authority. During our interview we discussed how ACT might fit into the middle way. Our talk turned into a great ACT primer for those not yet familiar with the practice. Enjoy!
Visit the MiddleWaySociety.org for a downloadable podcast and additional comments from Steve.