It was the end of December 2013, a few days before New Year's Eve, that Andy Boyle got drunk for the last time. It was the closing night of a popular comedy club and Boyle decided that he should probably take a break from drinking (he gave up eating meat too). He decided he should focus his energies on being a productive person.
While we can probably all imagine that the results were positive, it is safe to say that it is hard to imagine just how
positive they were.
Here is a list of what Boyle says happened in his life over the course of the last two years:
- Lost 75 pounds.
- Bought an amazing loft condo.
- Finished a first draft of an advice book.
- Started exercising three days a week, then four.
- Went from a size XXL to size Large.
- Performed in three comedy festivals.
- Got an amazing new job.
- Finished multiple drafts of multiple television and movie scripts.
- Went from a 42-inch waist to a 36-inch waist.
- Went from hating myself daily to relatively enjoying myself.
That is an awful lot of positive happenings. Especially that last point! Boyle views his decision to not drink as simply "taking a break" and wants to share with you what he has learned in case you want to take a break as well. He says, "overall, life seems to be a whole lot better for me because I took a break. Perhaps it could be for you too."
Things Boyle has learned
1. You don't have to drink to have fun.
This is a foreign concept to many people, especially when you consider that so many of our social celebrations and events are centered around drinking. What Boyle realized is that fun events, like comedy shows, concerts, and dates don't suddenly change if you decide not to drink. As Boyle says, "You're still you. Maybe you're more "inhibited," but is that altogether terrible? I've found that when I hang out with folks who have been drinking, I start to feel the same way I felt — in terms of becoming silly, goofy, fun — when I was drinking too." And the best part, as Boyle notes, is the fact that you will be able to remember the fun you had!
2. You have way fewer regrets.
Isn't it time that drunk texting became a thing of the past? You will not react to situations in a way that will embarrass you the next morning. Boyle says, "I think longer before I respond to something someone says. If I'm angry, it gives me time to calm down. Drinking definitely helped my inner jerk come out a lot more often. Now I am better at keeping the jerkier side of me locked up." By staying sober, you can be in control of your actions no matter what.
3. People will judge the heck out of you.
Sometimes people don't know how to respond when you tell them you no longer drink. People may decide you are no fun or not trustworthy. They may even find that your sobriety makes them feel badly about their drunkenness. However, Boyle chooses to respond to these judgments with empathy. He says, "it makes you realize the bad relationship with booze that other folks must be having. And for that, I have empathy. And I hope they figure it out."
4. You sleep so much better.
When you are drunk, your body is working, even while you are sleeping, to rid your body of the toxins. So, while your eyes may be shut and you may be in dreamland, your body is still working overtime. Boyle says, "I haven't slept this great since before high school."
5. You get less sad.
Boyle says he feels like a switch has been flipped in his brain. Even when something terrible happens, he is able to find a well
of positivity inside that was lacking before. "I used to get bummed out a lot. There were days when I wouldn't want to leave my apartment, or see anyone, mostly because I hated myself. I don't hate myself nearly as much as I used to," he says. "Positivity is now my go-to emotion, even when something bad or terrible happens to me. It's like I flipped this switch inside my brain: Instead of going to negativity, I try to find the reason something is positive."
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6. You develop more empathy for others.
Being booze-free helps you to understand that maybe someone is just having a bad day or dealing with something you couldn't possibly know or imagine. Boyle recalls an incident where someone nearly hit him with a car while he was crossing the street. He explains that the driver honked at him, cursed and flipped him the bird. He explains, "old me probably would've stood in front of him, not moved, taken a photo or video of him, shared it on the Internet, explained, 'Hey, look at this jerk who tried to hit me with his car!' and felt smug and wonderful about it. Instead, after an initial moment of fear and anger, I realized this dude was probably having an awful day." Instead of elevating the level of drama in a given situation, wouldn't it better to offer kindness and understanding? Wouldn't it be better to be a gentle part of someone's day rather than a major irritant?
7. You save so much money.
Boyle bought a condo. While it may be tempting to attribute that to other things, he believes that a significant part of his down payment was a result of giving up drinking. He says, "I'd like to pretend as though it wasn't because of how much money I saved by not drinking and buying food while drunk, but probably a quarter of my down payment came just from abstaining from booze." Even you don't drink as much as Boyle did, the money saved is still money saved!
8. You get tired earlier.
We all know how it goes -- drinking can make you feel invincible. With that invincibility comes an overwhelming and inexplicable burst of energy that will carry you well past last call at the bar. For Boyle, he finds it difficult to stay awake past 11 p.m. "Now that I don't drink, I'm not constantly searching for adventure, trying to find one more fun thing that will fill the empty void inside of me," he says. "I'm content with what I've done for the day, and my body wants to go to bed. I dig that."
9. You become amazingly productive.
When you stop drinking, hanging out in bars, and nursing epic hangovers, you will have so much more time to do other, more important things. As Boyle has found, he wants to leave something of himself behind when he leaves this world. And while spending time with friends in a bar is great, it ends there and the memory dies with all those individuals. Since he gave up drinking, Boyle says, "I spend more time working on bettering myself and my skills than I ever would have sitting at a bar, chatting with a buddy or two. I'm much less social than I used to be, but I'm also creating more art and failing a lot more than ever before." Boyle is devoting his time to being the best version of himself he can be. And really, whether you choose to quit drinking or not, isn't that something we should all work toward?
Boyle admits that he's had a shot or two here and there, but those shots are few and far between. Drinking was not fun for him anymore and if it isn't fun for you, you might consider doing the same. Perhaps you may not find it as easy to walk away, but we are pretty sure you'll be happy you did.
Isn't it time you became your best self? Have you given up drinking? How did your life change?
Source: Chicago Tribune
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