In late September, I called my six-year sober friend.
When I told him I was doing Sober October, he responded, “Me too!”
I’ve always commended his ability to be social, go to bars, and dance…all without the liquid courage of alcohol. I’m an extroverted guy but I doubt I’d be the same chipper dude at a bar in Brooklyn at 2am if I were sober.
He asked me why I do it. Why do I take months off of drinking if it’s not a problem in my life?
The answer is simple: There’s a part of me that enjoys partying and occasionally doing less-than-healthy things. So long as that doesn’t get in the way of my work, my health, or my relationships, then I’m good. But a few times each year, I take a month off to remind myself that I don’t rely on alcohol to be fun, funny, or social.
This was the best month yet.
It only took about a week for me to forget I was doing any sort of “challenge.” It helps that I’m not close friends with any avid drinkers.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from this past month. None of them may surprise you…
1) It’s SO much easier to get good sleep without alcohol in our systems.
Not drinking tends to mean not staying up late or doing other drugs. But even if we go to bed at a reasonable hour, a tiny amount of alcohol in our blood can greatly diminish sleep quality.
I use the app SleepCycle to track my sleep data and this was my best month in four years.
Here are some specs from a random Thursday in October:
That’s good shit.
2) NOT waking up with any sort of hangover is the 8th Wonder of the World.
Tied to #1.
I’ve done many drugs in my life—both legal and not. Let me tell you about my favorite one.
The most effective and sustainable drug on the planet is being clean, well-rested, well-nourished, and energized.
A night of cocaine may have made me better at talking about myself for a few hours in the past. But a stable and healthy body has allowed me to compound my efforts, build a profitable business from scratch, and get in pretty damn good shape.
If I had one drug to choose from, I choose that any day of the week.
There wasn’t one morning this past month where I wasn’t ready to attack the day. Even if I was a bit tired or sick, not being wildly dehydrated and groggy made me feel like I could experience the full scope of my day.
3) Conversation is the most important thing.
I’m lucky to have friends who are way more intelligent and creative than I am.
The cool thing is, I get to talk to them regularly. They inspire me. They make me laugh hysterically. They challenge me to level up.
When I visited one of my best friends in Philadelphia last month, the vast majority of our time was spent sitting or walking and having deep and curious conversations.
Aside from the occasional coffee or tea, it was just our own sober thoughts and questions. That’s connection.
In a friend or a potential partner, I ask myself:
Can I sit down with this person and have a three-hour, totally sober, fun and fruitful conversation?
If the answer is no—i.e. if it feels like other substances or activities are necessary for us to connect—then I’ll never truly feel connected to that person.
In other words, I connect with others through conversation: opening up about ideas and emotions and making each other laugh.
I still haven’t had any alcohol since Sober October ended. I’m not craving it at all and to be honest, I haven’t really thought about it until I sat down to write this blog.
That makes me feel good.
I would never tell anyone how to live their life, but I can say this for sure:
The more we can learn to genuinely enjoy our sober minds and surroundings, the more rewarding and sustainable our lives will be.
(*I hope that made sense and I hope that doesn’t sound insensitive to anyone struggling with addiction.)
See you next October.