I try to live my life by being the change I want to see in the world. So I stopped drinking alcohol. Here are the reasons:
1. I’m surrounded by alcoholics
My home country – and Western society in general – is full of people who have a drinking problem. It’s something that is not spoken about enough, but I think it’s a big problem in many countries. From my family to my neighbors and friends, and my friend’s family members, there’s alcoholics everywhere. In all my jobs I met plenty of alcoholics too. I worked as a waitress for 15 years – no need to explain I was meeting drunks on a daily basis. I was a journalist and a flight attendant. Journalists drink because of stress, flight attendants drink because they think it helps them sleep (in both cases alcohol just makes things worse, but we won’t go there now). Even as a yoga teacher I meet students with such addictions. But the good thing is that people who go to yoga already made the first step in solving the problem.
There’s this misconception that only old people can be alcoholics and young people are “just having fun”. Young people are going through a phase of craziness, experimenting, parties, stupidity, and in that period of their life drinking is considered normal. “It will pass eventually,” we say. Even if this phase goes far into their 30’s. I know many young people that have a drinking problem. Too many. But people around them still choose to ignore it. What happens when drinking continues in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s? There’s many convenient excuses: stressful jobs, problems at home. In a society where alcohol is a big part of everyday life it’s hard to acknowledge alcohol addiction. And even if we do acknowledge it, it’s extremely hard to overcome it. Once at a yoga retreat I met a British girl who wanted to cut off drinking, but she said alcohol was such a big part of the British culture she couldn’t imagine life without it. Every time she went to visit her grandmother they had a bottle of wine. When she met her friends they never went for coffee, but for a glass of wine or a beer. There was alcohol at every meal and she got drunk every day.
I know many people that drink every day and consider it normal. And not drinking is considered weird. World gone wrong! Imagine being offered a drink at a party and saying “no”. You know what kind of reaction you will get. People will be asking you if you are sick, pregnant or crazy, because there must be some kind of explanation for this weird behavior. Some will make fun of you, others will try to force you to drink. Actually, it’s similar to the reactions people have when you tell them you are vegetarian. Both are knocks on their conscience and nobody likes that 🙂 Getting back to why I don’t drink: I feel really sad when I see so many people around me struggling with this addiction and it just doesn’t feel right to consume the very thing that is destroying so many lives.
2. The more I am spiritually aware the less I feel the need to intoxicate myself
We have so many distractions that prevent us from coming closer to ourselves and alcohol is one of them. Once you stop running away from your true self and you get to know yourself better, you realize you don’t need alcohol (and similar distractions) in your life. Knowing yourself also means knowing what your true self really wants or needs. And your true inner self doesn’t need that false sense of relaxation that intoxication brings. It’s no coincidence that alcohol is not allowed in some religions, like Islam. Alcohol and other intoxicants are considered a “bad habit that drive people away from the remembrance of God”. In other words, intoxication drives you away from being spiritual. The more I practice self-awareness the less I feel the need to drink. Also, the closer I am to myself the bigger is my awareness of other beings and the less I want to support any kind of suffering.
3. I don’t like the feeling
It’s the false sense of relaxation that I mentioned before. Even if I have only one glass of wine, I can feel that numbness spreading around my whole body and I really don’t like it. I prefer being sober and alert, I prefer to absorb the world around me with all my senses intact.
4. I love myself
Drinking is self-destructive. It’s like smoking or overeating – alcohol is just bad for your health. Now I’m not saying having a glass of wine once a week is bad for your health. But drinking on a regular basis – or any other bad habit that we might have – is something that harms our body and soul. It’s a clear message that we don’t love ourselves enough and we should do something about it. If I love someone I never want to hurt them. If I love myself I never want to hurt me.
5. I don’t want to follow the herd
Who said there’s only one way of living our lives? Most people are rigidly following the guidelines of how to live their lives, and they never even think of what is right for them. I grew up with my parents and society telling me I need to finish school, get a job, get married and have children, have grandchildren and then… die. Does that mean I have to blindly follow this plan? Do I not have a mind of my own that can make decisions based on what I really like and what I really want? There’s so many things on this planet that would be so much different if there wasn’t for the herd instinct. One of them is the widespread social acceptance of drinking and the belief that the only way to have fun is by getting drunk. I’ve been to an Indian wedding in Rishikesh. It was the best party ever, everyone was dancing and having fun, and there was zero alcohol 🙂
I can’t help myself to mention eating meat again. Well not just eating meat, but supporting the torture of living beings in the meat and dairy industry. If people took some time to think about the things they are doing in their lives, they would see how absurd some of them are. Drinking is just one of the ways for people to become numb, to feel less, because they are afraid of exploring their true selves and feeling more.
These are my 5 reasons for quitting drinking. I never had an alcohol addiction, so quitting alcohol wasn’t hard, it was one of the most natural things to me. I understand that it might not be easy for everyone. If you think you have a drinking problem: don’t be afraid to ask for help.