That word of encouragement.

There are two kinds of people in the word.  There are people who think they’re independent and self-motivating, people who — let’s face it — are just kidding themselves.  In other words, they’re sheep who don’t know they’re sheep.  The other kind, and I’m in this group, are sheep who know they’re sheep; know it — and admit it to themselves.

I could never have done it without you.

I could never have gotten hooked without you.

Every now and then somebody issues me a challenge and says,”Give me one good reason anybody should take up smoking.”

I can give you three excellent reasons!  You should smoke because somebody you like wants you to smoke.  You should smoke because that somebody you like will like you once you start.  You should smoke because all the encouragement that comes along with smoking will make you like yourself better.

Why do any of us do what we do?  We do it because somebody gets us to do it.  Of course, that’s only half of it.  What do you suppose all of us are busy about, twenty-four/seven?  We’re busy trying to get folks to do the stuff we want them to do!  You don’t believe me??  You don’t want to believe me!

Let’s say you’re a sheep (I know, I know, not you!)  What do you suppose you want more than anything?  You want somebody to tell you what to do.  In fact, more than anything, you want somebody to make you do what they want you to do.  Don’t believe that either?  That’s because you have a narrow idea about what it means when somebody makes you do something.

You can be a tough guy, you can try anyway, and you can muscle your way through life barking orders and making threats.  Maybe you figure that’s the way to get the sheep to do what you want ’em to do.  Ha Ha!  Threats and commands won’t get you anywhere.  Think back on the last time you did something because somebody made you a threat.  Did you like doing whatever it is that you did?  Did you put your best effort into it?  Would you do it again?

I want you to make me do stuff; but you’re not going to be successful with me for long if you make me miserable for doing it.  The way to get me to do stuff is to convince me that I’m going to be friggin’ delighted if I cooperate.  You gotta persuade me!  You gotta seduce me!

The people who want you to smoke are seducing you.  They want you to smoke, but they want you to feel happy about it.  How many people do you know started smoking because somebody told them they would kill them if they didn’t?  Not too many, I guess.

Let’s look on the other side.  Let’s look at the folks who are trying to get you to stop smoking, or who are trying too keep you from starting.  Bunch of brainiacs, these guys!  They have one motivational technique and one technique only: “If you don’t quit you’re going to die!”  Nice bunch, huh?

I was taking a stroll around the park the other day, with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter in my hand, and somebody — some stranger — spoke to me as we crossed paths.  He said, “Smoking is hazardous to your health!”  What kind of way is that to greet somebody?  Who taught manners to him???  Well, fortunately, my mother taught me good manners and I said, “Hello there, isn’t the weather glorious today?  Say, that’s a cute dog you’ve got.  What kind of breed is he?”

He made a face at me, as if I were the one who had said something rude, and said, “I wouldn’t be you for a million dollars!”

Now that hurt my feelings!

“Well,” I said, “we’re going to have to wait until later to try to make friends.  We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot today.”

A little while later I was relaxing on a bench, sitting next to a very lovely lady I know, and she took out her lighter and said, “Wanna smoke?”  Well, sheepish little sheep that I am, I did exactly and precisely as she suggested, and I did it right away, and I did it happily, and I put my heart and soul into doing it.

Yeah, I was her little lamb; and I loved it!  I can’t imagine that other guy is ever going to get me into his sheepfold!

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