I’m quitting. I’m quitting and that’s a good thing. In our culture quitting has a negative connotation, as if it means that I’m giving up and not completing something. But it really just means to stop or discontinue. The word ‘Quit” comes from the Latin ‘be still’ and the Middle English ‘to set free.’

Quitting helps us step back and take a closer look at what we’re choosing. Part of quitting smoking, for example, requires that the smoker look at all the things that trigger the desire to smoke and then create healthier coping skills for those triggers. Going sober from alcohol is the same.

Not all quitting has to be forever. I just read a newspaper article about Financial Fasting. In it they recommended not buying anything for three weeks. Don’t go online or shop anywhere. Only eat what’s is in your cupboards (ok to buy a few perishables like eggs and milk). Don’t even let someone else buy you dinner or a movie ticket. Just don’t spend money. Observe your habits and impulses, and become aware of your choices.

For many years, I chose to practice a sugar-free month in order to understand that addiction. It was always hard at first, and then became easier as I went. I eventually realized that sugar, for me, represented the illusion of contentment. At the end of a sugar-free month I was healthier both physically and emotionally. One of my friends asked, “If you feel so good after one month, why do you restart?” Dang. There was a painful truth! After that I quit sugar for ten years. It was wonderful. I didn’t even miss it. I’m now able to use it in moderation although I occasionally, like any addict, fall back into bad habits (usually under stress).

When my kids were little, we did a month of TV Turn-Off. We planned ahead. We made a long list of all the things we could do instead of watching TV and taped it to the screen. Then we unplugged for an entire month. We read books, did art projects, played outside, talked to each other. The habit of reaching for the remote dissipated and then vanished altogether. Eventually, we just got rid of the TV. I haven’t had a TV for decades.

I do, however, have a phone. More accurately, I have a hand-held computer which includes a phone. I’ve developed bad habits. I scroll news and social media when I’m tired. I play games when I’m bored. I’ve noticed that I’m using it to procrastinate. Oops. Time to quit. I’m in the middle of a 3-day phone-less retreat. The word ‘retreat’ can mean ‘pulling back,’ which this certainly is. It also means ‘a quiet and secluded place where one can rest and relax.’