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The Philosopher




Jack E. Johnston

Copyright March 23, 1991

Revised August 11, 2016


When I was in high school I was determined not to get caught up in the smoking craze that was popular amongst some of my friends. When we were juniors my friend came to me and stated he was hooked on smoking cigarettes and wanted to quite. Since he was in my circle of best friends, I asked him to teach me how to smoke and I would find a way for us to quite. He reluctantly agreed to teach me. It took eighteen years to find a way to quit smoking. I have been off now for Thirty-two years (2013).  So, if you are still hooked here is the method I found to be successful.

This method for breaking the smoking habit is based on the work of Dr. Ivan Pavlov in developing the theory of “Conditioned Response” and my own experience as a smoker of eighteen years. Dr. Pavlov is well known for his experiment where he trained a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell.  The following method applies the technology of “Conditioned Response” to the smoking habit and redirects the response to complete the transaction begun by the stimulus. The stimulus is then removed by soliciting the aid of a “Higher Power.”  This method is as scientific as teaching a dog to sit or rollover, we can be trained to “Quit Smoking” or for that matter train ourselves to do anything.


The first step in stopping smoking is to identify the stimulus received that causes the response to want to “light-up”.  For me the stimulus was an empty feeling in my chest that signaled my need for nicotine. Once the stimulus is identified the response can be redirected.



The second step is to redirect the response that is given to the stimulus. A lot of people redirect the response to their mouth by eating something, chewing gum or a toothpick. A better place to redirect the response is to the mind. Redirection can be accomplished by replacing the cigarette pack with a small book the same size as a pack of cigarettes  such as a New Testament Bible or a Smart Phone with the “TEXT” to be read).   I suggest Psalm I and is recommended for its relationship to a higher power). This action in itself is a new response. When the stimulus is received (I need a cigarette), the words of the passage are read and they bring to conclusion the transaction initiated by the stimulus. The retraining has begun.



The final step is to ask the “Higher Power” to take away the stimulus. The very act of admitting a need for intervention of the “Higher Power” transfers responsibility for removing the stimulus to the “Higher Power.” You are also showing a trust for the “Higher Power” to remove the stimulus. Some common names for the “Higher Power” are: God, Jesus, Yahweh, Father, and Jehovah. Some people call this prayer. I simply call it talking with my “Higher Power.”  This action is still in alignment with the Conditioned Response Theory. These actions (praying, talking, asking) bring to conclusion the transaction that began with the stimulus (I need a cigarette).



The method I found that worked was to insert a “New Testament and Psalms” into my shirt pocket where the cigarettes would normally be kept. This book is the same size as a pack of cigarettes and works well as a substitute as would an iPhone. When the stimulus was received, I pulled out the book, turned to the first Psalm and read it from beginning to end.  The first Psalms begins with “Blessed is the man (woman) who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked….”. The Psalm continues “He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither”. In about three days I had successfully transferred the response to reading the passage. I then asked my Higher Power to remove the stimulus and admitted I was powerless to remove it myself. The simple act of asking was enough to remove the stimulus. In time, I did not have to ask. The stimulus was gone.


Psalm 1 (NIV)

Blessed is the one

who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!

They are like chaff

that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.