Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sobriety as Superpower

I have had a breakthrough.

Like many of my paradigm-shifting breakthrough thoughts, this one came to me while in the middle of a 45-minute cardio session.  When I do cardio, my brain gives a simple set of instructions to my body:  "Try and keep it around 135 bpm, and I'll see you in 45 minutes."  My mind then goes off to ponder, pray, or play.  And sometimes it even comes up with something brilliant.

For some time, I have been trying to stop drinking alcohol.  I can succeed for months (or sometimes years) at a time but, so far, I've always gone back.  One of the reasons it is hard for me is that to accomplish it, I must refrain from doing something.  I tend to to better at reaching goals which cause me to do things than at ones which make in necessary not to do a certain thing.

Quite naturally, I think, I have been thinking of sobriety as a negative ... it consists of NOT doing something.  I've unconsciously thought of it as being like darkness, which has no real existence of its own, but is merely the absence of light.  In like manner, sobriety is the absence of fun drinking.

But what if I were able to think of sobriety as a real, tangible, positive entity?  I think it would help me.  So, my idea is to redefine the baseline from which I take my measurements regarding productivity and success in life.  In the past, I've always assumed my baseline productivity level to be that which I can achieve with 100% perpetual sobriety.  Any drunkenness will cause degradation to this productivity level.  No place to go but down.

Now, I am going to create a new mental baseline.  My new baseline is the level of success and productivity I would achieve by going out once per week and getting really drunk.  After such an event, I am generally weaker in the gym for at least the next 3 days.  I have to sleep more, so that time is lost in addition to the actual 3 or 4 hours lost during the drinking itself.  There are many other areas of life in which similar levels of degradation are noticed.  For argument's sake, let's assume that my overall effectiveness for the week is 80% of what it would be assuming 100% sobriety.  So now, this 80% level is my new 100% level, my new "expected" baseline level. 

A few magical things happen from this way of thinking.  One is that it is now possible to go up beyond 100% productivity -- all the way up to 125%, in fact.  And how is this achieved? By the positive, forceful, and strong thing we call sobriety.

And that is the other magical thing:  sobriety is now a positive entity.

Suppose you are a bodybuilder, and you are told that there is a supplement that can cause you to be 25% more effective in the gym.  And, by the way, it's free!  You would jump at the opportunity!  That super supplement is sobriety.

Or, again, what if someone told you that when you go to parties, you could have a 25% better mental acuity and 25% better ability to see through phony people.  And that you could drive better, play games better, read faster, lift more weight, produce more at work, and feel better.  It would seem to you as nothing less than a superpower!  This superpower is sobriety, and I am planning on exploiting it from now on.