Thursday, February 25, 2021
Years ago, I knew this guy Curtis. Once, I was hanging out in a group with Curtis, and someone offered him some gum. He declined, and then recounted how he had a friend who wanted to stop smoking, but it was too hard. Curtis said that it isn't too hard, you just have to commit. He said, listen, I'll stop chewing gum. I won't chew gum until you quit smoking, and you'll see how when you commit to something, it's easy.
Over time, Curtis lost touch with this person, so he never knew if his friend had quit smoking. He had remained gumless ever since, refusing to break his pledge to quit gum until this guy quit smoking.
This story is very stupid, but I can't make it any better, because it's true. I mean, comparing gum to cigarettes...and check this out: we were in the smoking section of a restaurant! Curtis was a smoker, and instead of showing his friend how easy quitting smoking is by, you know, quitting smoking, he picked some random habit that doesn't have an addiction component at all.
And yet, this story stuck with me. Curtis hadn't chewed gum in a few years at that point. As far as I know, he still hasn't.
Gum obviously didn't have a measurable or positive impact on Curtis's life, hence his ability to abstain from it indefinitely, even when he didn't have to anymore. I admit to admiring this principled take on his bet with his friend.
Recently, I quit drinking for weight loss reasons. I haven't lost any weight from it, but I take the fact that I haven't gained any more weight as a win.
I do want to lose weight, though, so I decided to give up potato chips about two weeks ago. In thinking about how long I want this to go, I keep going back to Curtis and his gum pledge.
How difficult would it be to give up potato chips forever? Do potato chips actually add anything of value to my life? How easily could they be avoided, if I just decided that was what I was going to do?
And the answer has surprised me. I don't think it'd be difficult. Though I eat a metric eff-ton of them, they don't actually have much utility for me. And I think I could easily select other sides for the rest of my life.
So we'll see if I have the same willpower, the same principles as Curtis, especially as it pertains to the small things.