Mindfulness and Drinking

Mindfulness & Drinking

by John Baker

Let’s face it, drinking is a large part of western culture. Realistically, drinking culture isn’t going to change. As far as we have a written record, human beings have been experimenting with alcohol for one reason or another – religious practices, social and sporting events, and even in the hopes of cognitive expansion. Sometimes it may feel like there is no escape from the vice that plagues every gathering we are invited to. We feel pressured by our peers and our norms to consume and indulge, fearful of feeling we may be the odd-one out. Humorously, there have also been times when you probably felt you were the odd-one out for drinking, or drinking a certain amount.

There is a notion that in order to be successful in the business world you need to be able to throw a couple back at a big client dinner or else the deal is shot. Maybe you think it’s important to have a few with your boss at a company function in order to get that raise you’ve been dreaming about since joining the company. Perhaps you fear the agonies you may endure should you have to sit through an evening with your spouse or kids, dare I say, sober. Whatever your reasons, whatever logic you have based these stances on, have you ever thought to or let alone try, a different way?

Often, we make snap judgments based on observations made in our youth which carry us through to the rest of our lives, that is, unless we stop and question them. Socrates noted, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m not here to get into a philosophical debate about the efficacy of that statement with you today. I argue however, a parallel statement, is the unexamined action worth doing? More specifically in this context, is the unquestioned drink worth drinking? If you’re honest with yourself, reflecting fearlessly and forthright in an unbiased autobiographical sense, there probably haven’t been that many times in which the drink was necessary.

We all act mindlessly throughout our lives, especially when it comes to our vices. We twist logic and reality to find rationale for our faults. Thomas Aquinas puts it nicely, “Every time someone sins, they’re sinning under the guise of good.” If we are mindful of the situations we’re dealing with, we find very little practical and legitimate reasoning as to why we drink. These mindless actions not only rob us of our productive mornings, or simpler put, mornings, but also our health as a whole. This is not the article for a detailed look into how alcohol affects our health, especially as it pertains to body composition, strength and aesthetics. However, in short, it is a serious detriment to all three.

We need to reflect. Would our friends actually sever our relationship if we didn’t drink at every lunch, dinner or party? Does the client really care if I had a scotch with dinner, or does he care more about the bottom line of the acquisition? Did whoever got the promotion get it because he drinks the same beer as his boss, or is he just more fit for that role than I am?

I am not here to tell you to not drink. I have no right to do that. Nevertheless, I implore you to utilize some sort of mindful reflection when doing so. Perhaps you drink a glass of water between each one to give yourself time to think before instinctively going back for another, wait half an hour after coming home to see if your stress comes down naturally (which it probably will), or simply ask yourself why. You may find you never needed it after all.