Do you know what was the best thing I heard last week?

My gorgeous sister Catherine popped over for coffee last week, and as she swaggered in I said ‘you’re looking really well’ and she responded with a cheeky shit-eating grin saying “I haven’t drunk any alcohol for 90 days”

After the celebratory high-fives, she went on to say that her initial plans were to only give up for a year, but frankly, now, given the way she’s feeling, plus the dramatic upturn in her life, even at this early mark, she said she can’t possibly see herself going back to the booze. 
As we discussed the laughing highs & the subsequent lows that accompanies the bumpy journey to sobriety,  Catherine was already saying, even after only 3 months of complete abstention, that it’s the best thing she’s ever done’.
And I concur…because it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
I asked her what, so far, has been the biggest change, the most profound ‘shifts’ in her physical and mental wellbeing…
She said… (and aside from significant weight loss, financial savings etc)…and I quote…
“I respect myself, even go as far as to say I love myself now”
“My skin has improved”
“I wake up feeling amazing every day”
“I’m more focused and motivated” 
“Become more creative” 
And, “I have authentic communication when socialising”

I’m so proud of her.

Now I know I harp on about sobriety…sorry, not sorry…and I’m also well aware of what an incredibly challenging proposition it is to even consider just cutting back, let-alone giving up completely.

My enthusiasms for sobriety stems purely from my own transformation.
And this is something else which Catherine and I spoke about, and that is, you don’t, or can’t really comprehend how insidious alcohol is, until you’ve given yourself a significant break from it.
Insidious how?
It has a way of subtlety and not-so-subtlety detrimentally impacting our choices, habits and resilience.  On a macro-level we experience the ‘obvious’ side-affects of alcohol (poisoning) through hangovers, poor sleep, amplified poor eating habits, no desire to exercise & train, wasted cash, and the “saying and doing things” that you wouldn’t “say or do” if weren’t inebriated.

On a subtle level regular alcohol consumption, like Nietzsche describes, just numbs you.
It deflects not only your motivations for self-care & self-betterment, but distracts you from even wanting to go-there in the first place…it numbs your vision, if that’s at all possible. 
Alcohol takes a selfish grip on our psyche and displaces our innate desire for self-betterment & and very effectively Le Bron style, slam-dunks it into the ‘too hard basket’. #golakers

Catherine’s outcomes, even after only 3 months, are significant, no…they’re profoundly significant!
The ‘shift’ and upward trajectory of her own physical health, her appearance, self-awareness, self-love and productivity is a tremendous reflection of not only on her discipline, but also a biting indictment on how detrimental consistent or regular alcohol consumption is..again Catherine experienced that upturn all within 3 months

Lets just say… 
For the argument of this piece, Catherine wakes up one morning and says “Right, I want to become more self-aware, love myself more, look better & lose weight, and be more creative and productive” (who doesn’t?)
With that in mind, and  aside from giving up the booze, what other options would she have available to her to achieve those outcomes? 
What change of habit, or change of environment would or could possibly deliver her those results, so quickly…and without spending a cent?

The clumsy-arse point I’m attempting to make here, and why I will unashamedly advocate cutting back / giving up the booze, is that there is no alternative, no detox, no cleanse, no supplement, no woo-woo tantric red-light, Ben Wa Ball therapy that will deliver you anything near what some time away from the grog provides. 
[And, by the way…don’t ask me about Ben Wa Balls]

My mate Jeremy spoke to me about my approach to sobriety last week. Jeremy not only works in the “drinks” industry, but he’s also a very sound individual who, and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this, “knows” that there’s a sober-Jeremy in the not-so-distant-future.

He very rightly suggested that I could take a more Biden approach to my Sobriety campaigning, rather than my current approach, which could be argued as leaning towards being more Breitbart advocacy….meaning…Luke be a little more laid back and democratic, use a carrot & stick approach when trying to convey your message (to use Jeremy’s words exactly), rather than use my standard all or nothing approach.

Let’s see if a German philosopher can offer some food for thought…

 

…………………………………………

We Should Bother. 
[Ref: School of Life’s ‘Great Thinkers’]
German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), throughout his career, sought to help us live more wisely. 
He wanted us to be braver about facing up to certain truths, and to lead richer, more thoughtful, happier lives. Philosophy was no academic exercise (probably why I’m attracted t it). It was – as it had been for the ancient Greeks – a spiritual vocation and a form of therapy (the later is certainly another attraction for me)
Heidegger diagnosed modern humanity as suffering from a number of new diseases of the soul.

1. We have forgotten to notice we’re alive.
We know it in theory, of course, but we aren’t day-to-day properly in touch with the sheer mystery of existence, the mystery of what Heidegger called ‘das Sein‘ or ‘Being’. Much of his philosophy is devoted to trying to wake us up to the strangeness of existing on a planet spinning in an otherwise seemingly silent, alien and uninhabited universe.
His entire philosophy is dedicated to the Mystery of Being and devoted to getting us to appreciate, and respond appropriately to, this rather abstract but crucial concept.

His interpretation of the modern world (even back then) is of an infernal machine dedicated to distracting us from the basic wondrous nature of Being. It constantly pulls towards practical tasks, it overwhelms us with information, it kills silence, it doesn’t want to leave us alone – partly because realising the Mystery of Being has its frightening dimensions. Doing so, we may be seized by fear (angst) as we become conscious that everything that seems rooted, necessary and oh-so-important may be contingent, senseless and without true purpose…I think Covid has certainly made many of us realise & reflect upon this.
Heidegger goes on to say what we’re really running away from is confrontation with, what he termed, das Nichts (The Nothing), which lies on the other side of Being.

2. We have forgotten that all Being is connected.
We look at the world through the prism of our own narrow interests. Our professional needs colour what we pay attention to and bother with. We treat others and nature as means and not as ends.
We must attempt to step outside our narrow orbit and take a more generous view of our connection with the rest of existence.

3. We forget to be free and to live for ourselves
Much about us isn’t very free. We are – in Heidegger’s unusual formulation – ‘thrown into the world’ at the start of our lives: thrown into a particular and narrow social milieu, surrounded by rigid attitudes, archaic prejudices and practical necessities not of our making. [The book “The Four Agreements” is worth a read on this matter]
The philosopher wants to help us to overcome, what he called the “Thrownness” (or Geworfenheit, in German) by understanding its multiple features. We should aim to grasp our psychological, social and professional provincialism – and then rise above it to a more universal perspective…right on.
In so doing, we’ll make the classic Heideggarian journey away from Inauthenticity to Authenticity.
We will, in essence, start to live for ourselves

For Heidegger though, we can tend to fail dismally at this task most of the time. We merely surrender to a socialised, superficial mode of being what he called ‘they-self’ (as apposed to ‘our-self’). We follow das Gerede (The Chatter), which we hear about in the newspapers, on TV, or social media ‘news & information’.
What will help us to pull away from the ‘they-self’ is an appropriate intense focus on our own upcoming death. It’s only when we realised that other people cannot save us from The Nothing (das Nichts) that we’re likely to stop living for them; to stop worrying so much about what others think, and to cease giving up the lion’s share of our lives and energies to impress people who never really liked us in the first place.
He goes onto say…’Angst’ about ‘The Nothing”, though uncomfortable, can save us: awareness of our ‘Being-toward-death’ is the road to life. [this thinking aligns with the Stoics]

In a sense, we know a lot of what Heidegger is already saying. We merely need reminding and emboldening to take it seriously. We know in our hearts that it is time to overcome the “Thrownness” (or Geworfenheit), that we should become more conscious of  “The Nothing” day-to-day, and that we owe it to ourselves to escape the clutches of The Chatter / Noise (das Gerede) for the sake of Authenticity.

Whether Heidegger’s words resonate with you or not (I certainly hope they do), my reasoning to apply his words here is to emphasis one thing.
And that is, I believe, we can only truly determine our own unique-authenticity if we provide ourselves the opportunity for sober, focused thinking and reflection.
We can only truly embrace ‘our-selves’ and resist ‘they-self’ by escaping the the chatter, the noise, the distraction.
And alcohol only amplifies and distorts the chatter, the noise, the distraction.
Steering our attention away and driving us towards Inauthenticity 

 

I took the liberty to share my sister’s sobriety success because she herself is reclaiming her own authenticity – she said it herself. 
She wants that, I want that…and I cannot imagine anyone else not wanting that for themselves or for someone they care for. 

It’s only when we notice we’re alive, that we can start to live for ourselves. 

…………………………………………

Need some more subtle convincing?

FIN…

Here are 20 observations from newly sober people. Not from individuals who ‘classed’ themselves as alcoholics or heavy drinkers, but individuals who drank alcohol frequently, or consistently-regularly. 
Now apologies I’ve lost who or where I referenced this from…I think its Hello Sunday Morning

1.) The first major thing people see is a dramatic improvement in overall physical health. This includes significant weight loss, improved digestion, greater energy and less fatigue & clearer skin.

2.) Improvements in mental health, decreased overall anxiety & depression

3.) Sleep dramatically improves. 

4.) They commonly see big changes in their attitude towards other people.

5.) Quitting drinking saves A LOT of money.

6.) You get time back…evenings, night-time, and mornings.

7.) They realise that they don’t actually need to drink to have fun and enjoy themselves. 

8.) They begin to see themselves for who they really are, no longer using alcohol as a mask behind which to hide. 

9.) They realise that alcohol tends to make personal problems worse

10.) People find they have fewer regrets when living alcohol-free. 

11.) Quitting is both very difficult and very easy. 

12.) For some reason it really makes drinkers uncomfortable to be around someone who is abstaining. 

13.) Many people are just assholes when they drink, and sobriety not only makes them much easier to spot, but your ability to want to tolerate them evaporates. 

14.) Booze fuelled conversations are actually boring & ego-driven. 

15.) No hangovers.

16.) Days are much more productive 

17.) Notice improved ability to maintain commitments and motivations to their own health improves dramatically 

18.) They find it easier to make healthier choices. 

19.) Experience a sense of joy more often

20.) Your relationships with those you love improve.

Hello Sunday Morning 
Need some help changing your relationship with alcohol – this community do very fine work

References:

The Four Agreements

Great Thinkers 

The School of Life – An Emotional Education

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If you have any questions regarding how to optimise your mindset, sleep, habits, exercise, nutrition and strength training – do not hesitate to email me or call 0435 264 307

Till next time

Luke