2016 / 26 October

Wanna reduce or give-up drinking, but can’t?

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I read a famous quote, “Half the day, I wonder if it’s too late for coffee. The other half, I wonder if it’s too early for alcohol”, posted by Jason Parker on Pinterest. Mirza Ghalib has written some interesting stuff on God, love and alcohol. And one of my all-time favourite movies is ‘Sharabi’ (Alcoholic) starring the legendary Amitabh Bachchan. Then there is Yo Yo Honey Singh with his “chaar botal vodka” (four bottles of Vodka) and “Haan main alcoloholic hoon” (Yes, I am an alcoholic!). With all this appealing stuff floating around and the ever increasing stress in our daily life, it is but natural that more and more people are taking shelter in the ‘social’ process of drinking. It doesn’t matter whether you are a college student, a professional, a corporate honcho, a socialite or a teacher, you have your own unique reasons for drinking. I am not talking about those people here who have become badly addicted to or have ‘drinking’ problem.

If such an increasing number of people are finding solace in alcohol, what’s wrong with it? Whether it is for enjoying or for drowning your sorrows or for just relaxing a bit after a hard day’s work or for unwinding with colleagues, friends or family, it seems to be an innocuous substance which, of course, we consume in moderate quantity. We can even give it up whenever we want. So, what’s really wrong here? Are we just making a fuss about something really good and harmless?

So, we know very well that alcohol or the drink does some harm to our body. But at the same time, we have been told that a couple of drinks a day is not a problem. If taken in higher quantity, there may be some physical health issues which we can all read about on the internet. I am primarily talking here about what alcohol does to our mental health and our relationships. The effects may not sound very pleasing to the accustomed person.

  • First, I will compare alcohol to a digression from the present moment. Exactly, you will say, this is the reason why I have it. We are looking for more and more ways to divert ourselves from the present moment or the reality or the reality created by us. Alcohol helps us run away from the present for some time, albeit for a short while. But finally when we wake up, we have to confront the reality in addition to curing that hang-over. So, why not tackle the reality once and for all, be comfortable with it and not rely on the short-term escapades. The way to be in the present and ‘here and now’ are simple and free from alcohol. 5 Ways to Live Mindfully!.
  • If you need alcohol to enjoy yourself, either alone or with other people, ask yourself – why can’t I be happy without the help of this liquid? Where is the real happiness that comes from inside? Alcohol is giving you enjoyment by making you unaware but the real enjoyment or happiness comes from being aware. In other words, by being Mindful.
  • So, you feel that you develop deep relationships with people and interact intimately while drinking. Think again. The social interactions that we have while and after drinking tend to be very artificial. The alcohol creates an outer shell around your personality and contrary to your perception, the interaction is hardly intimate. It gives you a shell to hide inside and avoid getting intimate with the other beings. Yes, you may drop your guard and share a bit more information with each other or even get physically more intimate but the actual intimacy that matters is missing. When the drink wears off, you immediately realize the shallowness of that intimacy. A couple in real love will not need a drink to get intimate and real friends can very well bond over coffee.
  • Related point – the parties, get-togethers and meetings where alcohol is served, the focus is on alcohol. What to drink, what to mix, how much to drink and how much to get drunk are the focus areas for everyone. In my experience, the drink takes up a lot of mental space and capacity, leaving little bit for sharing with others. Though, on the surface it may look like a very noisy and active participation by everyone after drinking, the fact is everyone is in their own isolated shell, pretending to mingle. It is similar to a place where everyone is busy with their own smartphone, only that it is easier to make out the isolation when people are busy with their phones.

So, if you really want meaningful social interactions, develop intimate relationships with your spouse, family and friends, give up the crutches of alcohol and walk on your own, right up to the other person, look them in the eye and say what you want to say!

Look, I am not suggesting that you become a teetotaler overnight but stop relying on alcohol to enjoy yourself, to run away from the present, to isolate yourself from others and endanger your health and well-being. If you are into it, first understand why you should give it up and them work on it gradually. Mindfulness can replace alcohol and make you happier!

If you have managed to stay away from alcohol, then congratulate yourself and stay that way.

Feel free to leave a comment and write to me at info@ashutoshm.com

Ashutosh Mishra - YouthCoach & Author

A seeker and explorer in the quest for lasting happiness, health and well-being. An MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur and a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Delhi. Has been a senior banker with large global banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and ANZ Bank. Working in these demanding global institutions with a gruelling schedule and plenty of business travel. Was fortunate to realise the importance of health and wellbeing early on. Learnt and practiced many wellbeing tools and techniques to focus on his own well-being while balancing the demands of a high-profile career and a lovely family.

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