These four substitutes can make all the difference.
“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”— David Attenborough
I’m only one month away from being three years sober, and it has been an amazing journey so far.
When I made this decision somewhat randomly so long ago, I had no idea that it would lead me to where I am today.
I had a feeling that drinking was holding me back and not allowing me to reach my full potential, but I had no idea the number of ways that it was truly confining me to a box that wasn’t really letting me experience all the things that life had to offer.
While I thought alcohol was providing experiences and stories that I would never forget (and there was some truth to that), what I didn’t realize was all of the things that it was preventing me from doing because it was consuming so much of my life.
Now that I’ve been alcohol conscious for almost three years, there are a number of things that I’ve discovered that have made life tremendously better and more exciting without it.
I wouldn’t say “exciting” in the sense of episodes that would make for a good movie on Netflix but rather a life in which I am much more present, challenged, and pushed to the maximum limit on a number of different levels.
Take on Mentally Challenging Goals
As shared in a previous article, one of the ways to ensure that you steadily stay motivated to remain alcohol conscious is to give yourself some type of goal or hobby that is highly mentally challenging.
This helps your sobriety because it forces you to face the truth that the only way to continue to pursue this highly intellectual endeavor, you will have to continue to abstain from drinking any type of alcohol.
This strategy will prevent that feeling that some individuals get after the initial honeymoon phase of quitting wears off. For many, when they first quit drinking, many things start to improve in their lives.
However, with time, this begins to level off a bit as you get used to your new homeostasis, and individuals have a tendency to then think that their decision to stop drinking was not the cure-all that they originally thought it was.
By taking on mentally challenging goals, you giving yourself a goal that could create a much better future for yourself down the road. This goal should involve something that will push one’s current mental barriers and lead to some type of result that creates excitement and could lead to an entirely new life for you if you’re successful.
An example of this for me is that I’m working hard to improve my writing skills to the point that I can become a published author one day, as well as continuing to pursue various entrepreneurship endeavors.
By creating lofty goals for myself that would require a much higher level version than the current me, I build excitement around the work I’m doing now to create the future that I desire to have down the road.
Take on Physically Challenging Goals
In the same vein, pushing yourself physically can also create a more exciting life than what you lived before.
Very comparable to how there are certain mental challenges that you will not be able to overcome while drinking, the same can be said of various physical goals that will take a completely healthy version of yourself to achieve.
As I age, I find myself consistently looking to step my game up in regards to my fitness level, and by having high standards and goals for myself physically, I am excited about where my future may lead.
While I was drinking, I would often take two steps forward and two steps back, doing the cha-cha game of fitness. This typically resulted in me working out really hard each day and weekly but still not seeing the results on which I was focused.
When I quit, I no longer had alcohol as a governor to keep me from improving my fitness level, and as time has progressed, this has made all the difference.
For this reason, I now find myself thinking of a number of different athletic milestones and achievements that I would’ve never considered in the past. I feel that my ceiling is so much higher now, and for that reason, I’m excited about the next workout as opposed to dreading it because I’m nursing last night’s hangover.
The excitement of how improved physically you could be is enough to make every day more exciting than the last.
Create More Variety With What You Do With Free Time
This is a big one because many people don’t think that they have a problem with not knowing what to do with their free time.
It always seems that we are searching for more hours in a day instead of thinking we have too many.
Funny enough, when you stop drinking, this is one of the first things that so many people struggle with — loads of free time.
Part of this phenomenon is that many people just don’t realize how so much of what they do revolves around drinking of some kind.
For me, the reality was that it wasn’t the event that was interesting.
Whether it was watching a game at a bar on a Friday, hitting a club one Saturday night, or participating in Sunday Funday, the common denominator was the alcohol made it fun.
Take that away, and it just doesn’t seem as exciting.
Therefore, you will have to find new things you can do with your time that are actually a bit more exciting than just sitting around and drinking the hours away.
My wife and I discovered things like plays, museums, and eating at new restaurants that we absolutely love to do whenever we get a chance.
Since we are not subscribed to doing the same thing or type of thing all the time, we are constantly looking for something new and novel that will really stimulate our sense of adventure as opposed to our previous decision to go to a bar and just drink for hours.
This has yielded an entire host of things that I wouldn’t have thought of before and opened me up to so many new and varied experiences in the future.
Make Memories That You Can Actually Remember
Out of all the things that I truly appreciate now that I’m alcohol-conscious, this is the most rewarding.
My life when I was drinking was a consistent Groundhog’s Day of many of the same activities night after night.
I would go out pregame with my friends at some local spot and then be out partying until 2 am, come home, eat something not very healthy to soak up all the alcohol, and watch an episode of Family Guy that I didn’t remember.
For me, this seemed like tremendous fun, and I always felt like it was a good use of my time. Even though, many times I could not quite remember the end of the night regardless of how hard I tried (something that I learned was pretty dangerous to my brain’s health once I became alcohol-conscious).
Now, since I can actually remember what I do when I visit different cities or go out for dinner with friends, the quality of the memories I create is so much better than they were when I was drinking.
As shared, whereas before I would value long nights out and experiences that you might find in a movie, I am now much more interested in doing an array of things that I can cherish through memories in my golden years.
Much of this is with my wife, Lena.
When we were both drinking, we had fun nights out, but we just couldn’t quite remember them all, and sometimes that “fun” would turn into an argument about something that we also couldn’t remember how it got started since were not in the best mental state.
Today, we experience a number of new and first experiences, as we travel the world consistently and are able to look back on them fondly as we remember it all together.
This has turned into an entirely new world that has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and truly begin experiencing living life for the first time in a much different way.
And while I can’t say that I don’t miss those wild and crazy nights sometimes, I wouldn’t change this new kind of everlasting excitement for anything.