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Live Intentionally, Die Empty


This weekend I realized that most people live what I call a “surgeon general’s warning label life,” including me in some areas. And frankly it’s quite sad because the outcome from living this way is bound to be disappointment and surprise. (And not the good kind.)

On the side of every cigarette carton there is a warning to those smokers and this is what it says:

“SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy. Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health. Smoking by pregnant women may result in fetal injury, premature birth, and low birth weight. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide”

This is written on EVERY carton or pack of cigarettes. In fact, I checked the labeling requirements law (US CODE: Title 15,1333) and by law this warning must be displayed on every package, advertisement and billboard. Additionally it must be printed in a conspicuous place so that the message is not lost. However, even with ALL these warning and flags to NOT to a thing, millions of people choose to purchase cigarettes.

So here is what I mean by Surgeon General Warning Life: If I were to go up to a smoker and ask them, “Do you know that these cigarettes can kill you?” Their answer will be “yes” probably 100% of the time. Yet, with that knowledge they proceed to pay a very expensive price for something that is designed to harm them. Why is that? What I can gather is that “KNOWING” something is harmful for your life is different from “BELIEVING” the consequence will happen to you. So essentially what they are saying is. “I know that I can die from this, but I don’t really believe that it will happen to me.” That is until the day that they wake up and are speaking out of a hole in their neck.

And this is how I see that many of us live life. We are making bad decisions and lifestyle habits that we know are destructive to our lives in some way or another. It can be a decision to hang on to a certain job, relationship, continuing in destructive permiscuous lifestyle, and a host of other things. I recently found out that a friend of mine who had just had a girlfriend get pregnant last year became an instant father of three within a few days of each child. Well after he got the first girl pregnant a year ago, he was saying that he was definately going to be careful next time. Sometimes there is no next times. And we don’t consider that. Think about what we tell teenagers and young adults about the consequences of sex. Pregnancies, diseases… yet, with the knowledge they have (and even seeing others suffer with the consequences) it doesn’t deter them.

I’ve learned that fear only motivates for a little while, experiencing the guilt or consequences is short lived, and someone sharing their story of what happened to them only produces sympathy but not a self-desire to get it right. The only things that will stop us from living a surgeon general warning life is a quality decision to change and choosing someone to hold us accountable for that decision.

There are a couple lessons that the surgeon general warning label can teach us:

1.“Smoking causes lung cancer, etc.”: The destructive decision and pattern that you have chosen for your life is leading to a path of harm, not potential harm, but certain (sometimes irreversible) harm. And will no doubt complicate your life. In fact you are already experiencing the complication despite the pleasure.

2. “Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks”: The sooner you make a quality decision to change and stop the destructive decision and habit to less severe the consequences. You may even get out before it seriously complicates or destroys your life.

3. “Smoking by Pregnant Women May Lead to Fetal Injury”: Whatever plans that you have conceived in your heart, you may cause to abort or be skewed upon it’s birth due to your lack of sound judgement. You may be taking yourself off the course to give birth to your dreams. You’ll wake up and the life that you wanted to produce will be something you’ll have to struggle to nurse back to proper health.

4. “Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide”: What you are doing is poison. Not only for others but that second hand smoke affects others. Your decisions affect others besides you

Lastly, the price tag on cigarette is telling enough. It’s very expensive to make some of these decisions. You know what areas of your life have the surgeon general’s warning. It’s been plastered in a conspicuous place. It’s not hidden and all your friends, family and counselors have already told you of the dangers of your habits. Time for you to believe that the consequences CAN and probably WILL happen to you. Make the quality decision to change.


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