If life has no meaning, why stop alcohol? Just get drunk every day!!
Why wouldn’t you ‘let loose & have a good time’ if you can’t go anywhere nor do ‘normal’ life?
Scenario: Limit freedom to move and capacity to connect with others; add the threat of a novel virus; sprinkle over with continual media coverage of pandemic stress, climate change, wars, economic instability and political corruption i.e. Pandemic & Lockdowns 2020 & 2021.
Outcome: According to ANU 2020 study, in the first few months of the pandemic lockdowns one quarter of Australia’s adult population exceeded the safe, alcohol consumption levels of 10 standard drinks per week or less than 5 standard drinks in a single day. The two key drivers were identified as boredom and excessive stress. Later studies assessed that 14-20% more alcohol was consumed in Australia during the pandemic. Some people are finding it hard to stop alcohol.
“When personal agency and meaningful activity are reduced, hedonistic behaviour – such as excessive drinking, eating junk food or bingeing on television – is a rational response,” suggests social philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger (Dumbo Feather 2022).
Hedonism is the ethical theory of pleasure as the highest good and proper aim of human life. Hedonism is about cultivating satisfying pleasure in the moment. I think we can all do with more pleasure in life. It makes life more enjoyable!
It is questionable how pleasurable this kind of pandemic response is. Certainly, the first few sips, few bites, or first episode create feelings of pleasure. But the subsequent sips, bites and episodes essentially help us avoid feelings of discomfort. When we feel powerless, numbing out with a bottle of something is effective, short term, relief for emotional and mental stress.
We can adopt different ways to manage stress, and can then enjoy a drink (or not) later.
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Pleasure to Addiction?
I wonder if pure hedonism included addictive and compulsive behaviours like those we see in today’s ‘hedonistic behaviours’?
Ancient Greeks weren’t exposed to the addictive tactics used to incite Netflix marathons, nor fructose laden junk foods that keep us going back for another serve. Sure, they had alcohol, epicurean delights and orgies, that all trigger our brains’ reward systems. But they didn’t have the curated, endless supply of pleasure devices of contemporary addictions.
We all know that alcohol, junk food and Netflix benders, despite their short-term pleasure hits, have serious, longer term, health consequences.
Poor lifestyle choices lead to a physiology more prone to inflammation. The epidemics of chronic illnesses – including cardiovascular (heart) diseases, cancers and chronic respiratory illnesses – all have inflammation underlying their pathologies. Metaflammation, as Prof Egger coined it. This alone is good reason to stop alcohol drinking in excess.
Pleasure to Happiness?
To balance our pleasure seeking, we need to embrace eudaemonistic behaviours.
Eudaemonism means feeling good from acting in a way that produces happiness.
It comes from Ancient Greek; made up of the word eu ‘well’ and daimōn meaning ‘guardian spirit’, making the word eudaimōn meaning ‘system of happiness’.
So really, eudaemonism is where our unique ‘guardian spirit’ or individual genius is authentically expressed and generates more happiness in the world around us. If there was ever a time to adopt eudaemonic, meaningful activities, I would suggest ‘the deciding decade’ – the 2020s – is definitely it!!!
Playing the game “Make Life More Wonderful”, as Marshall Rosenberg used to say.
According to sociologist Corey Keyes, Eudaemonic activity has many signs. The more of these signs you can identify and adopt into your life, the more likely you are to be thriving, happy, and find it easier to stop alcohol in excess.
Fundamentally, developing eudaemonism in your life means connecting with meaningful activities, other people/ living beings, causes, and having a clear sense of your personal evolution and purpose.
The happiness and pleasure generated from these activities might not be instantaneous. When we connect and value the outcome of an activity, it is possible to enjoy it, without feeling immediate huge rush of pleasure.
For example, ironing a cotton shirt. Ironing isn’t a super pleasurable activity. However, seeing yourself or a beloved wearing it, looking fresh and stylish, incites a form of pleasure. Connecting to this future outcome brings a sense of enjoyment to the ironing itself.
Pleasure in creating happiness, brings happiness. Happiness and connection free us from the shackles of addiction and the unhealthy habits of numbing out to avoid discomfort. Building eudaemonia into life is the key.
Alcohol free in 14 days Program guides you to find what is meaningful and purposeful. Identify your aspirations for your precious life. Engage with these values in your life, and live in the radiance of who you really are. Stop alcohol in excess and be alcohol free 🙂