The magic of quitting something for a while

On Sunday exactly 30 days ago, I began a visit to the Indonesian island of Java. Since then, I haven’t been drinking any alcohol. This was not a deliberate decision, but rather pragmatism: Ramadan was approaching, so alcoholic beverages were pretty inaccessible. I didn’t feel the necessity to go and actively search for a place where I could get boozed up. So I simply turned this opportunity into a streak. I’ve returned to Sweden a week ago, but I figured: “Why not just continue a bit?!” And so, today I reach 30 days “dry”, possibly for the first time in my adult life…

I don’t have any problems with alcohol and I don’t think drinking the occasional glass of beer, wine, champagne or whatever is something negative. However, I love my streaks of temporary abstinence. It is always educative and — for me — mentally extremely rewarding to break with a habit for a certain period, just to see what happens, and to practice will power. Another favorite of mine is sugar abstinence. However, coincidentally or not, my sugar intake has definitely increased during the past 30 days.

I regret that I didn’t get myself some kind of health tracking device. It would have been so interesting to see whether/how key health indicators would change once giving up on moderate drinking. So I have to rely on my subjective perception. I don’t perceive any difference physically. But as mentioned, I get a lot of neurological reward for achieving a streak.

One major insight with this little experiment is the reaffirmation of a typical phenomenon that occurs when giving up habits or the consumption of whatever substance one is somehow attached to: After an initial period of actually missing the habit/substance, its perceived “importance” diminishes significantly. Now the only moments during which I still have to “fight” to continue my streak are social occasions. When all your friends drink, being the sober one is a kind of a downer.

As I have no particular goal with this and as I don’t consider moderate alcohol consumption a problem, I might continue the streak for a while, or I might break it soon. We’ll see. What I for sure would miss: the savings. Visits to the restaurant become so much cheaper.