Not all of us have a drinking problem and it’s fine if you just want a glass or two at the end of a hard day. That’s your choice as a fully grown human being. I did have a bit of a problem so stopping completely was a must but I’ve noticed so many differences in myself since stopping that I now realise they would be applicable to everyone. I could make a list so long you will be reading until next June so I’ve kept this one to five of the best. Here goes:
Number One – You wake up with a clear head
This one is probably the most obvious. No headaches or fuzzy brains means that you can work harder in the day and get more done. It used to take me an hour or two to start functioning in the morning and now I bounce out of bed so that also gives me an extra couple of hours per day that are productive.
Number Two – You make better decisions
Because you have a clearer mind you are far less likely to make dumb choices. In my work day I can think more quickly and concentrate for longer. Not having a fluffy brain makes a world of difference to how much work you are able to produce.
But more importantly than that, you can’t make dumb decisions while drunk. How many times have you woken up and had to look at your phone to check that you haven’t drunk dialled an ex or emailed your boss to tell him exactly what you think about him? I’ve got into so much trouble over the years because my tongue loosened up quite a bit once I’d had a drink or two.
Number Three – Your motivations change
When you are drinking too much your brain is hungry for everything that it can get hold of that is addictive and unfortunately money is one of the most potent drugs out there. This means that as an addict you are far more likely to be chasing the money at the expense of everything else. Happiness and friendships fall by the wayside as you try to get that next elusive bonus or promotion.
Once you sober up and your perspective on life starts to change you start to have other ideas about what’s important when it comes to earning a living. The big houses and fancy cars look less attractive and bigger causes take on a more important role. I decided to go part time and although I earn far less money I get to spend time with the family and being outside in nature. I’m far happier now because my sober brain has allowed me to take a step back and really look at what is important to me and to stop worrying so much about what society says I should be doing.
Number Four – You stop self-sabotaging
This is really a form of low self confidence. I didn’t believe in myself so whenever I was starting to do well I would drive myself into a ditch to stop the good things from happening. I knew that I couldn’t handle the responsibilities that came with the good things so it was easier to just trash it myself and then blame everyone else around me.
It helps that I now know what I want in life so the choices I make are far less scary. I can still be ambitious and take risks, but now I do it in areas that I feel passionate about. For example, I’d no longer consider going for a management position at work but I’d be quite happy to spread my wings by helping at the youth group at church, putting my face on Youtube or signing up for an ultramarathon. They’re all difficult things but they are a world away from what I was trying to do while drunk and rather lost.
Number Five – You become a nicer person
When you stop drinking you realise that there is a whole world out there and, shockingly, you are not at the centre of it! When you spend every evening sitting on your sofa drinking wine and eating Cheetos, you forget that there are things going on outside.
Put down the drink and you can start to volunteer at your local food bank or night shelter. You start to become aware of the issues that are going on in your community and when you start to get your confidence back you realise that you can help and you can make a difference. This is the single most empowering thing you can discover as a human being; that you can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.
One of the most important elements of the twelve step programme that helps so many addicts is that of service. To be of service to your community is so empowering and fulfilling. And if you’re starting a business you will be starting it on the right foot if you are thinking outside of yourself.
So, by all means have a drink, but next time you pick up that glass of Chardonnay consider whether you really need it and think whether there is anything better that you could be doing with your time. And of course, as always, just make sure to be a really nice person.