Two weeks down, one to go. I had a conversation with a good friend about instant gratification early this evening. It’s a common subject when talking about addiction actually, but it’s there whenever we’re talking about doing something irresponsible to get what you want right then and there. We do it with alcohol whether it’s drinking to feel better or just drinking to drink among others.
I found a great blog post on In Space We Trust about why the author decided to stop drinking from October 1st to the holidays. He talks about his own experiences with similar subjects I’ve talked about including instant gratification. I wanted to share a little bit from his post.
Of course I feel less tired, I don’t get hangovers, I sleep better, I have fewer headaches, etc.. But also – and I suppose this is something that every minimalist is a little addicted to – untethering, quitting, stopping, giving up (choose your favourite semantic) is fuel for will power. Over time it is easier and easier to refuse a glass of alcohol. And also I feel better and better. I suppose this is merely due to the discipline rather than the actual alcohol diet.
Like Drew Jacob said in his post. It also feels good to stay conscious all the time (except when I sleep of course). It’s great to go to a restaurant with friends, come back home around midnight and be able to work if you want to. Also being conscious all the time creates a sort of consciousness momentum. This is very interesting. Do you know the feeling you have when you are working on a project, when you are “in the zone” and you are suddenly interrupted? It takes some time to get back “in the zone” again, right? I felt a little like that with alcohol. When I had more than 2 or 3 beers or glasses of wine, my consciousness momentum was broken. Of course the light alcohol “unconsciousness” interrupted the momentum but also I had to put extra energy to get back to this momentum/flow state in my life. I can also go back on projects I stopped for several days without so much effort either. I feel that the ideas are still loaded in my brain and easier to access. This is definitely a great productivity boost.
What people say
I don’t believe what people say matters. Seriously, you should not either. People are as wrong as you or me. They don’t know more. If I had listened to what people have said, I would have started back drinking after less than a week.
The first kind of people’s reactions is to tell you to drink, to try to trick you into making you drink beer instead of Coke, etc… I believe it is just some friendly teasing… I won’t take that with any serious consideration.
The other kind of reactions is to wonder if you have a health problem. I did not think of this one when I started the challenge. It’s also nice from those people, I think they were genuinely worrying about me. Not a problem, it’s more a nice thing to notice.
The ” just this time, make an exception” starts to be annoying though. I hear it every other day or so… This is the most intriguing one because I realized every “social event” I participated to was considered as special by the people I was with. So special it was worth an exception. Dinner with clients was a good reason according to my boss. He asked me 3 times during the meal ( B. if you read this, it’s okay 🙂 ). There is also the ” I did not see you in a month” good reason or “I won’t tell anybody” good reason or “I’ve just moved into my new apartment” good reason. So I start to believe we fool ourselves with good reasons to get drunk. Isn’t there this underlying need to get high? (and I say high because I believe the process is similar with other drugs).
This leads me to the theme of instant gratifications. This summer I had a beer almost every evening after my work day. There was always a “good reason”. I had a good day or a bad day, the weather was good, I was bored, I was excited or whatever. Instant gratification is a recent habit for humanity (well, for the western world humanity). It really feels like the perfect modern life habit. From what I heard life conditions were more difficult a century ago. People were doing more hard work and I suppose the only “instant” gratifications they got were a meal, some time with their family and sleep.
There are different grades of gratification. Usually the most meaningful ones are not instantaneous. They take time and appear to you in unpredictable ways. It is not meeting the pace of our post-industrialized lives though. So instead we create our instant cheap gratifications. All it takes is a good reason and honestly life can be so stressful that it’s not difficult to find one. Alcohol beverages (or other drugs) are a good way to satisfy this instant need for gratification. And they also numb us to accept our lives.
Amanda Ahmad works in the entertainment industry to get things on TV for you to watch. She’s a small-town Pennsylvania native, but has settled in quite well into LA Life. You can follow her randomness on twitter.