This is the first installment of a multi-part series. We’ll explore why The Drinks seem to be so cool, while sobriety is like some lame, nerdy cousin. I’ll share a path toward conscious sobriety, a method of getting it to stick, and why we’re better able to party on our own damn terms.
Brew some tea. Crawl into your Snuggly. Let’s Party.
The New Sobriety – Part 1
When we trace our paths backward, we can see most of our landmark decisions that got us here. Maybe it was our decision to take that job, have these kids, or let go of something that no longer served us.
The fulfilling, happy life is a conscious one. It is self-directed, and focused when it has to be. At other times we’re happier to meander around in indecision because let’s face it: decisions can be exhausting.
Research consistently proves that although human will-power is a renewable resource, it gets depleted throughout the day by the sheer number of choices we need to make.
When we’re lucky, our choices are simple and binary: either/or, true/false, or yes/no.
But what about more complex, ambiguous questions like “When is enough, enough?” or “When is too much, too much?”
We seem to consume everything on a sliding scale of satisfaction. It gets hard to tell when consumption brings us joy, or when we’re scratching some itch created by good marketing.
…just when you think that you’ve got enough / enough grows
And everywhere that you go in life / enough knows – Ani DiFranco
Even if habits like drinking never deteriorate into full-blown addiction, we learn to live in a state of limbo—unsure of when, or if we need to get off an elevator that’s only heading down.
If we’re determined to cling to habits that served us well at one point in time, can we be so sure the same habits aren’t consuming us now?
The two biggest decisions that had the greatest
impact on my personal happiness have been:
- Creating a daily meditation practice
- Deciding to give up The Drinks
There’s a growing body of neuroscience that proves a daily meditation practice leads to happiness. But what about abstaining from booze? Doesn’t partying and relieving stress grow our happiness also?
Conversely, doesn’t abstaining from drinking amplify boredom and discontentment, especially when everyone around you is having a Grand Old Time?
The past four years since taking my last drink have given me time to think about how abstaining has made me a happier person. For starters, I only needed to decide once. After waffling back and forth on whether to quit, I simply had enough.
My experiments found that alcohol took more than it gave me. None of my Party Mentors did this simple math.
<–Click to Tweet
My moods would swing wildly and I’d be ultra-sensitive for a couple days after a night of heavy drinking. Every time I took a break, I’d come back a little bit harder either by volume, or by frequency.
For all the laughs and “deep” conversations, it left me with more questions about my behaviors, or motives. Instead of the social lubricant drinking provided in my youth, it started creating a creepy veil between my ego and my soul. It would also create bizarre attachments, or imaginary halos of attractiveness to things or people I didn’t want, or need.
Making a firm commitment to abstain freed up a massive amount of emotional and psychological bandwidth. For the first time since starting to drink at the age of 14, my internal dialogue was no longer on a constant loop over whether I had enough.
Or too much. The space it created could be reallocated to finding deeper, more nourishing ways to party.
Partying became less about escape from my current circumstances or stress. It resembled more of those formative dragons we chased as teenagers: an ability to deeply revel in the magic of life. To laugh at, and love my circumstances.
That first year it felt like I turned down thousands of offers to drink. Because my single decision to abstain was congruent with the person I wanted to become, I didn’t need to repeatedly weigh the options presented by others.
For better or worse, many of us find abstinence easier than moderation. That was the camp I fell into. Maybe it’s genetics, or tolerance. It doesn’t really matter.
Moderation works well for many of us, except that our sliding scale of “enough” is a moving target. We can too easily justify getting over the hump on a Monday, or Happy Hour becoming Any Hour.
Have you consciously quit The Drinks for a month or more? What did you notice when you came back?
If you find moderation to be simple, has it always been that way? Please share below! -kc
Stay tuned for The New Sobriety – Part II
Looking for a Zero-Judgement, FUN Community?
Learn more about The New Sobriety Challenge HERE
I am so interested to read this series! I am definitely in the moderation camp as I don’t like not feeling good so I have a drink or two maybe once a week with friends, but don’t really drink outside of that. It’s gotten even easier to do that after having 2 kids since I went almost 18 months with no alcohol between my 2 pregnancies. I think I used to use it as stress relief, but in the absence of it, you find other ways!
Hey Tiffany! Thanks for the comment. Luck you, carrying Them Babies! With our 3 pregnancies I told my wife I’d join her in taking a 9 month break, then quickly she’d become my designated driver. I could’ve done it if I was With Child. 😉
I love that you are doing this. Worthy topic, excellent challenge.
I began experimenting with alcohol (and other drugs) at 13. It took about a decade to redirect myself. Learning how to manage my anxiety was crucial. So, I had a bumpy start but have been on the path of moderation for over twenty years and it’s not difficult to maintain.
Even though I consider myself a moderate, I have an active dialogue about “the drinks”. Do I really love the taste of this Pinot? Is drinking this glass of wine more about the effect? Being aware of my response to these questions is super important in making decisions that best serve me.
Love your conscious awareness though. That’s everything. Thanks for sharing our story. I had a very similar early introduction but moderation ceased to be an option. Can’t wait to share Part 2 (!!!)
Lol after reading comments above regarding your pregnancies. Your wife is a saint. I have three children. Yes, hangovers and kids don’t mix! Look forward to next segment…
just published #2 Ingrid 🙂 hahah -kc
I love this topic! Growing up The Drinks were definitely a part of the…”do you want to be cool” gang…but I hated the way they tasted and made me feel…but nonetheless I gave in.
In college, I started dabbling in hatha yoga and loved how it made me feel. The Drinks were still there in the background, something I did occasionally. But as I slowly started meditating too, I felt so much more alive and connected.
As my meditation practice became stronger, I heard a voice say….”If you have any desires to drink….do it now and get it out of your system, because after college it’s just not going to be something you do”. I remember getting up from the meditation thinking…hmm, that’s interesting. With that in the back of my head, I continued through college, with a drink here or there. I found an awesome group of friends that just loved the outdoors, laughing and just being together…occcassionally we celebrated with The Drinks, but it was nothing our friendships revolved around. It was awesome!
And then after college….As the voice in my meditation had told me, I just never was into them after that. I know for sure, my meditation practice was fundamental in making that shift happen somewhat unconsciously.
What I’ve noticed, whatever vices you have….sooner or later, with a consistent meditation practice, deep desires start evaporating on their own…until they are no longer there!