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Friday, 23 January 2015

The Thirty Day Challenge

Daf Yomi Yevamos 111

Jim has been trying to quit smoking for years.  He’s tried everything – nicotine patches, chewing gum, e-cigs – but he’s found nothing that will stop the cravings.  All he can think of is how on earth could he get through a lifetime without touching another cigarette.  What should he do? 

The Mishnah states:  If a widow who was taken in levirate marriage by her brother-in-law who, within thirty days, says, ‘I did not have marital relations,’ we force him to annul the marriage.  After thirty days, we ask him to annul.  But if he admits they did not have relations, we force him to annul even if it is a year or more later.
Rashi explains that after thirty days we believe him if he says that they cohabited, since beyond that amount of time, a person generally cannot constrain himself.

The thought of not having another cigarette for life is unbelievably daunting for a smoker.  The way to quit is to set yourself a goal of just thirty days.   A month is no big deal, right?  You can do it! 

Listen to the Gemara’s teaching: Most people cannot constrain themselves for a month.  So if you can get past that month, you are a hero!  Don’t think about quitting for life; just get yourself through the month.  After that you can reassess.

And that’s the way to get past any habit or addiction.  Maybe you couldn’t imagine keeping kosher for the rest of your life.  Try it for thirty days.  Maybe you have issues guarding your tongue or your eyes and you think ‘I’ll never be able to give it up.’  Instead of trying to change forever, challenge yourself to kick the habit for thirty days.  That’s a lot more reachable.  And who knows what will happen after that?

For most people, a lifetime of change is too humongous a goal to comprehend.  Don’t try to change forever.  Take the thirty day challenge.  May your life be filled with many successful thirty day challenges!

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