I’ve made a bunch of changes over the years in an attempt to live a happier, healthier, more present life and they’ve all simplified my life.
Changes including …
- Decluttering and choosing to live with less stuff.
- Paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt and becoming debt free.
- Giving away most of my clothes.
- Downsizing to an apartment less than half the size of my house.
These were big changes that made a big difference in my life and some of these changes happened years ago. But the thing I did that simplified my life the most only happened a year ago.
I stopped drinking alcohol.
On being sober
I had my last glass of wine on January 19, 2019 and my last hangover on January 20, 2019.
I’ve been sober for a year. I haven’t had a drink in 365 days. Until now, the longest I’ve gone without alcohol was when I was pregnant with my daughter … more than 24 years ago.
I usually didn’t think alcohol was a problem for me. I didn’t think I was an alcoholic. I didn’t think I needed to quit drinking, but eventually I wanted to. Simplifying my life has encouraged me to remove the things that remove me from my life and alcohol did that.
For the longest time, I thought drinking was fun and relaxing but now that it’s been out of my life for a year, it’s clear that it was those things for a moment but then it often turned into not feeling well physically and mentally (the opposite of fun and relaxing).
It doesn’t matter how much you drink
I used to read about people struggling to quit drinking and their stories made me feel better about my own relationship with alcohol. I didn’t drink every day. I didn’t drive drunk and crash my car. I lived a healthy life. I took care of my family and loved my work. My comparison blurred the lines on wondering if my life might be better without alcohol.
I recently read a brilliant new book, We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen that gave me some clarity.
Laura says, “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t edged as close to disaster as I did. It doesn’t matter if no one believes you when you say you have a problem. As they say, it doesn’t matter how much you drink, or how often, but what happens to you when you do. If something is keeping you from being fully present and showing up in your life the way you want, then deciding to change that thing is an actual matter of life and death, you know? It’s the difference between existing and actually living.”
I choose actually living. Fully living. My life is better without alcohol. Less is usually the answer for me but when it comes to alcohol, the magic number is none.
Have all my problems been solved? Nope.
Is my life simpler? YES!
How being sober has simplified my life
For 365 days (perhaps longer by the time you read this), I haven’t had a hangover, I haven’t spent money on alcohol, I haven’t picked a restaurant based on their wine list. I haven’t had to decide on “one more glass.” I haven’t said or done anything I regret or don’t remember.
You might be wondering if I think being sober would simplify your life. I have no idea. It depends on how alcohol affects your life now. I could say the same thing about clutter, debt, shopping or the size of your home. Maybe it works well for you and maybe it doesn’t.
I often wonder why I thought (and believed the thought) that I had to hit some kind of rock bottom or be on the edge of disaster to quit drinking.
If you are questioning what removes you from your life and prevents you from showing up and enjoying your life, the only way to know for sure is to live without it and see how you feel. Then you’ll have more information and can make decisions based on what you experience instead of believing everything you think.
Taking breaks from things like alcohol, coffee, sugar, shopping, social media and other things I wasn’t sure about gave me information I needed on how to proceed based on how I feel instead of what I think I will feel.
If you’d like to read more about why I quit drinking and the resources that helped, read Why I Stopped Drinking Alcohol and How I Did It.