I'm an ex-smoker (I quit about 30 years ago), and I recall having the annoying evangelistic zeal of an ex-smoker toward smokers. I'm also an ex-fundamentalist Christian and so I know well the obnoxious evangelistic zeal of trying to convert people to what I believed to be "the one and only true way." And so, I write the following with great trepidation...
A few years ago, my wife and I discovered something which honestly made a significant positive impact in both of our lives. We began to meditate. Here's the deal about meditation: for most of us, so much of our time and attention is spent in our own heads, wrapped up in our own thoughts. We ruminate about the past and create imaginary scenarios about the future. We project our internal thoughts onto the external world and then react, not to what's really going on but to what we imagine is going on. By meditating we learn to step back and observe the thoughts in our head. As we do, we begin to realize that our thoughts are not reality--they are ephemeral. We realize that we are not our thoughts and our thoughts are not us. This means we can choose whether or not to react to a thought, and in what way. We can engage with a thought as it passes through our brain, or we can just let it float on by and disappear. This also means we can spend less time ruminating in the past and in imaginary futures and more time here and now in the present moment--where reality is.
For Carla and I, this has brought about a greater sense of equanimity, patience, simplicity, union with God, compassion for others, moral clarity and general happiness.
I was so profoundly impacted by this discovery that I ended up making meditation--both the Buddhist-derived form often called "mindfulness" and the Christian form typically called "contemplation"--the central topic of my Master's thesis and then my forthcoming book.