Marie Kondo & The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Having That After-Work Beer

“…when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future…As a result, we increase the number of unnecessary possessions, burying ourselves both physically and mentally in superfluous things.”

-Marie Kondo

Removing unneeded or unwanted things from our lives is a sure way to change our lives.

We all have a healthy fear of change. When that fear becomes the driving factor in our day to day choices, we become stunted. When we are stunted we don’t grow. When we don’t grow, we rot.

“…he not busy being born
Is busy dying.”

-Bob Dylan

This year I have been slowly but surely removing unwanted things from my life. It is a difficult process, because it is so much easier to hang on to things, whether they be old books or old behaviors, than it is to let go of them.

When we let go of things we have to become conscious of them, we have to become aware of the clutter, we have to make choices on which things are beautiful or useful, and which things are not.

“The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past…The things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves. It is dangerous to ignore them or to discard them indiscriminately as if denying the choices we made…It is only when we face the things we own one by one and experience the emotions they evoke that we can truly appreciate our relationship with them.”

-Marie Kondo

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the death of an old friend of mine. She was an amazing person, who lived life to the fullest and made you feel special whenever you were around her.

At the same time, she drank way too much. I am convinced that it led to her early demise. I am also convinced that drinking helped cause another friend of mine to commit suicide, and yet another friend die of acute alcohol poisoning.

Marie Kondo popularized the idea that if something doesn’t spark joy in us anymore, then we should get rid of it.

A couple thousand years ago, Stoic philosophers had similar ideas.

“So, concerning the things we pursue, and for which we vigorously exert ourselves, we owe this consideration — either there is nothing useful in them, or most aren’t useful. Some of them are superfluous, while others aren’t worth that much. But we don’t discern this and see them as free, when they cost us dearly.”

— Seneca

If a thing is useful or beautiful, it is good to keep it. If it is ugly or harmful, it is good to get rid of it.

Thinking about my friends who lost their lives with the assistance of alcohol makes me look at the beer in my hand a little bit differently.

Does this beer spark joy? Is it beautiful or useful?

To be honest, not usually.

The more I read about the delicately balanced functions of our liver and how our gut biome is the basis of both physical and mental health and wellness, the less that alcohol seems like a fun way to pass the time. The more I read about how getting good sleep is fundamental to our mental health and cognition, the less it seems that having that glass of wine seems like a good idea.

The one exception, of course, being an occasional social celebration.

There has been some correlation between good heart health and having a glass or two of wine every day, but the studies aren’t conclusive. At the same time, why dull the senses and introduce alcohol into our systems if we don’t need to? The one positive thing drinking has going for it is a reduction in stress levels, but not if we exceed one or two glasses of wine a day. After that limit the alcoholic drink will be extremely harmful to our liver, digestive system, and brain.

Regardless of that grey area, refraining from alcohol is going to be better for your body and brain. When I look at pictures of those friends who have passed with the help of overindulgence, I see their rapid aging through the process of alcohol abuse and binge-drinking, I see disease and death waiting around the corner impatiently.

As much as I used to love my ice cold beers after a hard day’s work, now I am convinced that they aren’t as beautiful as I thought they were, or even that useful for stress reduction anymore, and it is time to set them aside and go out and have some real fun, with healthier options to enjoy life like hiking, biking, kayaking, or yoga.

Join me on my 30 Day No-Alcohol Challenge and start to get rid of all that old junk!

Words are Code - "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." - Rumi

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