“Good busy-VS-Bad busy.” (08/14/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Most of us lead pretty busy lives, but have you ever thought about the difference between being good busy and bad busy? I’m going to give you some examples along with my opinion on the difference, but I ask that you consider the differences yourself and then come to your own conclusions. I hope that this article/podcast will get you moving in the direction of spending more time being under the influence of good busy.

Being busy can feel overwhelming. Sometimes there seems to be so much going on in your life that it wears on you. You feel like you need a break, you may be stressed out and might use this as your reason to drink. But I think it’s important to stop and assess the situation. Would you rather have a busy life or be bored out of your skull? We all want to have a happy balance between busy and relaxed and we all have different desires of how busy we want to be. Some people thrive on a hectic schedule, others feel completely overwhelmed by even the smallest amount of responsibilities.

I believe that if you’re not busy you might be tempted to go down an unhealthy path. At least that’s how it is with me. Even if I’m busy with mundane or dull things, I still feel like I’m good busy. I do a lot of things that don’t have a big payoff, but if I wouldn’t get them done, I would end up with bigger problems. Keeping my house clean is an example of this. If my house is a mess then I don’t feel like doing other important things like paying my bills or working on developing my businesses. If I let small, but important duties fall to the side, then all of a sudden I find myself under pressure. If I don’t pay my bills on time then I have late fees or I’m scattering to take care of stuff that I should have taken care of. Then all of a sudden I’m busy, but it’s bad busy.

Staying busy was the best thing I did during the early stages of my sobriety. I can’t say that everything I was doing was productive, but it was still what I would consider as good busy because it kept me mentally and physically preoccupied, so I wasn’t thinking about drinking and I wasn’t just sitting around thinking or talking about my sobriety. And now, always being busy is the best way for me to maintain and continue with my sobriety. At this point in my life I’m way too busy to drink. There are so many things that I want to get accomplished, that I want to do and that I want to experience that I don’t have time for drinking. For me, staying busy is a distraction from the desire to drink. And I know that if I were to start drinking I’d never get anything done towards accomplishing or experiencing any of my goals.

You don’t have to be hyper-productive to be good busy. Reading a book, talking with friends, going on a vacation or watching a television program or movie that you like can be good busy. I think being good busy is all about enhancing the experience of your life. Some people would argue that getting drunk or getting all ghenked up is a life enhancing experience. For a good part of my teens and adulthood I did think that getting loaded was a life enhancing experience. And I did have a good time during my drinking and drugging years, but I also fucked up a lot of things and all my fuck ups came back around to make my life unpleasant. Even with all the rotten shit I did and all the people I either pissed-off or disappointed, I still feel that my biggest sin as a drunk was that drinking got in the way of me being good busy. Too much of my time, my skills, my mental focus, my money and my life was involved in the bad busy of getting drunk or loaded. I missed out on a lot of really good life building and life enhancing opportunities because of being bad busy.

So what is bad busy? Bad busy is filling your life with drama, and usually it’s not even your own drama. Getting involved in gossip or someone else’s problems is BAD busy. It might make you feel important and involved, but it’s bad busy and it distracts you from your own life. Getting overly involved in other people’s problems uses up your valuable, limited time. Sitting and commiserating with someone about their problems very often leads to drinking, and neither of those is a good use of your time. Not that spending time with other people or helping other people with their problems is wrong or a poor use of your time, but there’s only so much you can do for another person. I often say, “I can’t exercise and lose weight for you and I can’t stay sober for you. I can only support you and help you so much. Ultimately you have to do these things yourself.” Limiting your time and the depth of your involvement will help you avoid bad busy.

Another example of bad busy is fixing all the shit you did while you were drinking or drunk. After a good bender you might have to call people to apologize or to find out what you did. You might have to tend to all sorts of weird problems like clean your house or clean the puke off your bathroom ceiling. You may also find yourself busy sleeping as you nurse a hangover. That’s bad busy. Plus, while you were spending your time drinking you didn’t do other things you probably should have taken care of or wanted to do. And now you’re cleaning up after your drinking binge and you’re still not taking care of responsibilities, but you sure are busy.

Being in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship (or because you think you’re supposed to be in a relationship), is another example of bad busy. The time you invest in a relationship that isn’t fun or rewarding is eating up precious time you could be spending doing something else or spending with someone else. People often get involved in these types of relationships. They feel that they have no value or lead a boring life if they’re not in some sort of relationship. But a worthless relationship can sap your time and energy. I can’t claim these words as original, I heard someone else make this statement: “I would rather be alone than wish I was.” It’s okay to be alone or not be in a relationship.

A bad or unrewarding marriage is a different matter. If you’re married, then that means you made a commitment to commit yourself to making your marriage work. Working at a floundering marriage isn’t necessarily bad busy. Being responsible for your children isn’t bad busy. You may have to sacrifice some of your own satisfactions and luxuries to accommodate your children. Spending time with and raising well-adjusted children will keep you busy, but that’s never bad busy.

Another example of bad busy is when you spend a lot of your time focused or worrying about your own sobriety. I know that it’s important to keep a focus on sobriety, but eventually don’t you just want to live a normal life? I understand that many people find groups to be helpful for them, (and it may be beneficial during the early stages), but those group sessions require your time. If you’re spending time doing one thing, then you don’t have time to do something else. Simply getting busy and getting on with your own life will probably be the best thing for your sustained sobriety. If you’re extremely busy working on goals and moving your life in a forward direction you won’t have time to drink or even be in a position where you’ll be tempted to drink.

So what is good busy? Everyone’s life goals and desires are unique to them. I don’t think it’s proper for me to tell you what actual activities would be good busy for you. But I do believe that there is a measure or a rule of thumb. I believe that if what you’re doing is enhancing your life, your family’s life or is building towards a better future, then that’s what I would call good busy. Even in the case of getting up and going to a job that you don’t like, you’re earning a living that I hope is enabling for a good existence for you and your family. If it isn’t, then you might want to get good busy and begin furthering your education or skill sets so you can pursue a job or career that is rewarding.

Since I stopped drinking my mental clarity has helped me begin to understand the power behind being busy and I’m better understanding the difference between good busy and bad busy. Yet I find that it’s not always easy for me to determine whether something falls under good busy or bad busy. I like to always be busy, but some of my “busy work” probably isn’t all that productive or moving my life forward. Even in sobriety I’m still capable of deluding myself and getting so busy at being busy that I’m too busy to do important things or things that require hard work. I’ll involve myself into “busy work” to avoid other responsibilities, to avoid doing the hard jobs or I’ll tell myself that I’m “too busy” to hang out and enjoy a social life. When I see myself doing that, I realize I’m partaking in bad busy. Yet even when I’m not able to determine what activities are truly good busy and which are bad busy, I still stay busy and being busy is what helps me continue living as a non-drinker.

I suggest that the next time you find yourself deeply involved in something or getting ready to involve yourself in something or someone else’s business, ask yourself: “Is this good busy or bad busy? Will this improve my existence or enhance my life experience? Is this the best use of my time?” The answer to those questions will be solely on you. And I hope you’re able to keep yourself focused on always being good busy.


These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“It still sucks!” (09/25/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

This title doesn’t sound very uplifting or motivating. I usually attempt to write with an uplifting and motivational flavor. But I also believe that in certain cases it’s better to write from a true heart than to gloss over or offer false hopes. But in the end, I intend that this will be a motivating message.

The first book I ever wrote is titled: Living Sober sucks (but living drunk sucks more). And I have to say that after more than 10 years of complete sobriety,,, it still sucks.

I will admit that this is purely all my own fault and probably based on skewed perceptions—my own skewed perceptions of how I would like things to be balanced against the way things actually are. I know that my expectations of myself are just too high. I am not under nor have I ever been under the misguided belief that sobriety in and of itself should or will make my life perfect. I use the word “perfect” here because there is no question in my mind that my life has become far better living as a non-drinker than when I was a user. However, in my case I am still a bit disappointed with my own results.

Sobriety has a way of allowing my mind to see things in a clearer, truer fashion. I can usually see what needs to be done if I want a certain result. The problem is then that with a sober mind I can also see my own limitations or I can see the end result, or in many cases the failed end result. Facts and reality are too blatantly clear. It’s not as easy to delude my vision or liquefy my perceptions. I can’t drink my mind into thinking things are different than they are. That’s why I say, “it still sucks.”

I realize that each case is different. For many people, sobriety is very rewarding for them. Many people who are married or are in relationships find that their family life and personal interactions with loved ones vastly improves. I have also heard from others who say that their relationship has become more difficult since they themselves have stopped drinking. If one stops and the other doesn’t, you’re pretty much going in opposite directions. I feel that sobriety is a rougher situation to be in for single people.

Many others have stated that their careers and financial situation has dramatically improved since they stopped drinking. I know that in my case I am able to work better and have been offered many new jobs. I can also afford to eat better and live better—without having to earn more money—simply because I’m not spending ANY money on booze or recreational drugs.

So in the overall, I have no regrets for stopping my destructive drinking hobby. But this has been a struggle and the struggle continues. What’s even more confounding is that the struggles are always evolving and they become different types of struggles. Here I am with over 10 years of complete sobriety below my belt and the temptation to drink those new and different types of struggles away continue to exist. The struggle and temptations aren’t outwardly apparent. The temptations aren’t brought on by seeing others drink or any other obvious triggers—the temptations exist within my own mind. They are a result of my own dissatisfaction with myself and the desire to escape reality.

My lifestyle as a non-drinker has become so normal to me that I’m rarely in situations where I face obvious temptations to drink. But that lifestyle change has also brought with it a feeling of boredom and depression and that’s when I’m tempted to drink. My personal hunger for exhilaration and excitement isn’t being fed. I thought that drinking and taking drugs enhanced and enabled that hunger to be fed, but it didn’t. Now that I’m clean and sober I can see that. I wasn’t living a rush, I was just loaded.

And here’s the most twisted part of it still sucking. Over the past 8 years I have been more places than I even knew existed. I have met more interesting people than I knew existed. I have had more new experiences than I ever had in my past. I have done more heart pounding and dangerous activities than I ever did when I was drinking. I now have the clarity to understand the consequences of dangerous and thrill seeking adventures. I understand that I must have proper equipment, skills and training to do many of these adventures. I have put myself in harm’s way and went after a genuine “rush” more times than I ever did when I was drinking. All of these experiences logically support that this can’t still suck, yet I continue to find myself being bored and with the impression that it does still sucks. (I said 8 years even though I’m almost 11 years sober because I feel like I squandered my first 2 to 3 years of sobriety. I finally began living again when I met some very caring individuals. I started to care back and I came to find a new life through knowing them.)

But I still search for that exhilarating rush. I still yearn for excitement and I hunger to have all of my senses and every fiber of my being on fire all at once. But now my clear mind allows me to understand that I can’t have all of those things and that I can’t live in a constant state of “buzz.” That’s why it still sucks for me.

Depression, skewed views and pessimism are rarely driven by logic. Logical data can often show the individual who is susceptible to these emotions that things aren’t as bad as perceived, yet the individual can’t change their feelings. That’s when, where and why mind altering substances are often used as an escape or diversion. The problem with using substances as a diversion is that it can result in things factually sucking. It can create problems ranging everywhere from poor health, poor choices, poor performance in life, financial difficulties and interpersonal difficulties. You can create your own logical reasons to be depressed and pessimistic.

I admit that living sober still sucks for me. It doesn’t seem to suck as much as it used to. And if I knew precisely what needed to happen or what I needed to do to make it not still suck, I would pursue that. I do however have faith in myself and hold hope that at some point it won’t suck any longer or at least suck a little less. But it could also just be one of the idiosyncratic quirks of my personality? Some people like to be miserable. I don’t think I’m one of those types, but I do know that I’m often driven by challenges and driven by the urge to overcome hurdles. And then again maybe I’m just a lunatic who isn’t making much sense?

Regardless of what it is, I have experienced both ends of the sober spectrum and I am glad I am on the clean end of the sober spectrum. I have full intention to stay that way. I am fully aware that no matter what psychological or emotional discomfort I may feel, I have a better life as a non-drinker and better chances of achieving happiness and contentment as a non-drinker.

I am genuinely sorry if you feel this is a dark article. I certainly don’t want to bring anyone down and I certainly don’t want to deflate anyone’s hopes that sobriety will be a fantastically rewarding experience. It may turn out to be the best thing you ever did for yourself and your family. I truly hope that living as a non-drinker brings you the happiness and contentment you desire. But please don’t expect sobriety by itself to make everything wonderful for you. Allow the sober you to discover and do all of the things that will bring about your happiness and contentment. Be a participant in your life and make your sobriety work in your favor.

My intention isn’t to force you into anything, I don’t want to lecture you or even persuade you. I do want to get you thinking on your own. I would like to help you empower yourself. These are my own opinions and all I’m doing is presenting an alternative viewpoint on all the traditional 12-step systems or religious based systems. I don’t want to dissuade you from following any system or faith. I just want to ask that along with your current beliefs or system you do a little thinking of your own.

If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Recovery is not just for the alcoholic.” (09/17/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Recovery isn’t just for the alcoholic or the user. This article/podcast is more focused on and dedicated to those that do the helping than those that need or seek help. For simplicity in writing, I’ll be using certain words to describe either a person or the process. I’ll be using the word “recovery” to describe the process of first becoming clean or sober. I’ll utilize the word “user” when referring to the individual that has the substance issue. And I’ll be using the word “supporter” when referring to the individual or individuals who are trying to help or support the user.

First I want to talk to the current users or those of you who are recently clean and sober. Getting clean or sober is a dramatic change in lifestyle and emotions. These changes will be a challenge for all parties involved. Not just spouses and partners, but with family members, friends, with your job and with people you work with. It may even impact where you work or what you do as a career field. Everyone around you will have to deal with and get accustomed to the new and evolving YOU. You might think everything is great, but you don’t have to deal with you. Just as when you were a drunk, you thought you were fine because you never had to deal with you. But there will be changes and those who support you are going to have to put up with your changes.

Some recovering users may be in a position where they don’t have any normal non-drinker or non-user friends and family. Then they must seek those kinds of people out. Look for people at work that you could gravitate towards. Join a gym and hang out with healthy people. Go to bookstores or coffee shops. You will have to actively look for people. There are plenty of recovery forums online as well. There are also many recovery groups that have meetings. There are alternatives to traditional AA meetings or church group meetings. HARM Reduction is one and Smart Recovery is another. You can find information about each of those organizations online as well as many other alternative forums and groups.

I don’t endorse AA or buy into the ideals of the organization, but I won’t tell you not to go. I had no idea of any alternatives when I first stopped drinking and most of the people I consulted who weren’t drinkers suggested AA (they didn’t know about anything else). I attended AA meetings for about 6 months and used the sessions to serve my purposes. Attending meetings helped me get a better grasp of what I didn’t want to be like. I discovered that I didn’t want to be a temperance and sobriety lunatic. I discovered that I didn’t want to become dependent upon a group, organization or some other person to maintain my own sobriety. I just wanted to learn how to live a normal life as a non-drinker.

Those meetings helped me tremendously. I didn’t say much or engage very much. “I don’t really think I have anything to add.” But I listened and thought. Then I began writing notes about my observations. This helped me begin to formulate my thoughts into a written plan for myself. That eventually led me to writing 2 books on the subject of making the best out of sobriety. Living Sober Sucks (but living drunk sucks more) is my first book. It’s half memoir and half descriptive ideas about sobriety. (That book is in its 3rd printing. I could go back and edit or update it, but I think it shows a factual example of how raw my mind and emotions were at that time.) I followed that up with my book: “Okay, I quit. Now what?” I still use that book as my own platform for how I want to live my life as a non-drinker and non-user. The book is intended to involve the reader personally. I want the reader to think on their own behalf and use the interactive worksheets to come up with their own answers to what they want out of sobriety and what they’re going to do with their sober life.

When you the user starts going through recovery, there are going to be plenty of changes. Over the past 10 years so much has changed within my life. My circle of friends has changed, my interests have changed, my buying and spending habits have changed, my work and career field has changed. So not only have I had to deal with the changes during my sober evolution, everyone and everything around me has had to deal with my changes. Many of these changes have been totally unexpected and completely unforeseen. Many changes have turned out better than I had imagined and some have been more painful than I had imagined. I am eternally grateful to all of the people who supported me during those changes and who continue to hang out with me as I continue changing. It is the patient supporters who are my heroes.

So let’s talk about what it’s like to be a supporter. A lot of times people see someone else that has what they perceive to be “a problem”. They can see that the other person could be doing so much better in their life. They want to help and they want to say something but they’re not sure how to help or what to say. Well, here’s something to consider: “Unless the other person’s drinking or using directly affects you, your family or your safety, you might want to just mind your own business. Maybe the other person likes being a drunk or a druggy. Maybe they’re happy the way they are.”

You see, I really enjoyed getting drunk and I really really liked getting high. I wasn’t sitting around waiting and hoping for someone to come along and tell me how big of a fuck up I was. The few times anyone ever mentioned my heavy drinking to me I just told them to go fuck themselves. I finally had to see—for myself that my drinking and fondness for drugs was adversely affecting all areas of my own life and would ultimately affect my wife’s life and my marriage. I came to my own realization of this, no outside intervention played a role. Once I realized I needed to do something, that’s when I knew I would need help and support.

Most people have the best of intentions when they offer support or advice. But they’re rarely available for support AFTER they’ve given their advice. Support isn’t done by constantly talking about sobriety or rehashing all the bad things the other person may have done. Support is best served by just being present and being a stable part of the recovering user’s life. Invite the recovering user to come over and hang out with you and help you with your daily chores or a project. Don’t just sit there—do something together. Let the recovering user witness and participate in living a normal life. Let the recovering user see and experience what a normal life is like. And the most important thing if you truly want to be of support to someone, you must also be sober with them.

So let me tell you a little story about me. On October 12th, 2005 I stopped drinking. At the same time I also stopped smoking pot, stopped taking pills and stopped chewing tobacco. I made some major changes with my life and I needed help, desperately. My body and my mind was a mess. My spouse didn’t support me. In fact she was mean, insulting and undermined my efforts to stay sober. She continued to drink. I would be teased, criticized, told that “I wasn’t a man.” She would taunt me by flirting with other men right in front of me. She lied to me and cheated on me. I was going through recovery all alone. Shortly after I quit drinking I moved out of my home and began divorce proceedings. I was an emotionally fucked up mess. I ended up finding my support where I least expected it.

My support came from me actively searching and seeking out normal people that I wanted to hang out with. None of these people were professionally trained as rehab counselors. They were regular people who led regular lives. I asked if I could hang out with them and asked if I could help them with their projects. These people had no idea what an important role they were playing in my life. I wanted to see how normal, sober, non-drinkers and non-users lived. These people became my ‘secret’ mentors and ‘private’ role models. (I never told anyone about how highly I held them. I didn’t want anyone to feel awkward or feel that they had to live up to some expectation. But I was always openly thankful and appreciative of their kindness and friendship.)

To this day I still have ‘secret’ mentors and ‘private’ role models. I still gravitate towards non-drinkers. It isn’t that I’m consciously trying to avoid temptations. I just prefer hanging around people who have better things to do than just sit around and drink. I do have some very close friends that do drink, but their life isn’t focused around getting drunk. They’re productive, interesting people who might bring a couple of beers with them when we go out boating (and I’m serious when I say a couple—meaning only 2). They may have a beer after a project or a glass of wine with dinner. I also have friends who are heavy drinkers, but I don’t spend a lot of social time with them. I may have dinner or work on a project with them, but as soon as they start drinking heavily I just disappear. I have better things to do with my life than hang out and watch someone get drunk.

Very few people ever have regrets for being patient and making valid attempts to improve their life. Many times it may “feel” like you wasted your time when you try and try at something and the results don’t turn out as you had wanted them to. This holds true for both the recovering user and the supporters.

You as the supporter play an extremely important role. Whether the user openly admits it or not and whether they’re aware of it or not, you as a supporter are actually a mentor to them. The user will be looking to you to see how you handle your life. They will be watching to see how you behave as you go through disappointments and life’s daily struggles. And they will be closely watching as to how you handle temptations. You as the supporter don’t have to always be talking about sobriety and you don’t need to be professionally trained.

Recovery isn’t just about the user. The supporter is also going through recovery. Both parties are learning about this new sober person. Recovery is an evolutionary process. The need for sober support will change as time passes. The former user will change as time passes and the role of the supporter will change as time passes.

I sincerely salute and applaud any of you who have supported and helped a recovering user. You played an important role in someone else’s life. I hope it has been as gratifying for you as it has been for the recovered user.

My intention isn’t to force you into anything, I don’t intend to lecture you or even persuade you. I want to get you thinking on your own. I would like to help you empower yourself. These are my own opinions and all I’m doing is presenting an alternative viewpoint on all the traditional 12-step systems or religious based systems. I don’t want to dissuade you from following any system or faith. I just want to ask that along with your current beliefs or system you do a little thinking of your own.

If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“How bad is bad?” (07/16/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

How bad is bad? How bad do things have to get before you say, “I need to get a handle on this”? Well the answer to that is completely up to you. I know that there are tests and questionnaires that you can fill out to assist you in answering whether you have a drinking problem or not. But you don’t have to fill out a questionnaire to figure it out. If you’re worried about your drinking or your friends and family are worried about you, then you probably already have a problem.

You may not feel that alcohol is causing any problems for you, and it may not be. But I do know from my own experience that you don’t have to be complete drunk for alcohol to create problems for you in your life. I know that drinking consumes a lot of money and time.

Now let me point out that I’m not lecturing you or going to lecture you on the evils of alcohol.  You can drink all you want to, it doesn’t matter to me. I just happen to know that there are costs involved with drinking, and many of those costs are hidden. Sometimes you pay the costs, sometimes other people pay the costs; like your spouse, your kids, your family or your friends. And even when someone else is paying the cost, you eventually end up with the bill.

You don’t have to be a raging alcoholic for booze to cause problems. You may not have family problems as a result of drinking. You may not have alcohol related health issues. You may be responsible at work. You may be careful and don’t drink and drive. You might be a very pleasant and well rounded person. But if you drink every day or even every other day, your little drinking habit may be eating your life away. There are hidden costs to drinking.

Let me expand on the hidden cost of time. As I tell you this, I ask that you think about whether this has happened to you. You might find yourself saying, “Ya, I’ve done that.”

It’s a normal Tuesday evening and you’ve got plans to get some chores done. You want to clean up the house a little, pay some bills, answer a couple of emails and maybe work on a hobby or project. But right after dinner you grab a beer or a glass of wine. No big deal. But it goes down pretty quick so you grab another one. You sit down to work on paying those bills, but suddenly you don’t feel like doing that now. You grab your phone and call a friend. As you’re chatting with your friend that second drink magically disappears so you grab another one and keep on chatting.

You get done chatting and you really don’t feel like paying bills, doing laundry or working on your hobby. So you grab another drink and plop down to watch TV. You have a couple more drinks and the next thing you know, your entire evening has been wasted away. None of what you wanted to do (or needed to do) has gotten done. (I’ve wasted away entire weekends by being distracted with drinking. And I haven’t even touched on time wasted away with a hangover.)

Does any of this sound familiar or ring true with you? You’re not a rotten person if something like this happened to you. You’re not a full blown drunken lush because drinking can distract you at times. But when you become distracted by drinking it then consumes your mind and your time. (And you’re also consuming your money—not just the booze.)

This unintentional distraction of drinking can become a self-feeding cycle. My past is proof. I would get depressed or bored, so I would drink. Once I started drinking I would get distracted and I wouldn’t get some of my responsibilities done (or some other project I wanted to get done). Suddenly some of these things that I haven’t gotten done would become overwhelming. Then I would get sadder or more depressed and drink some more (or again the next night). Before I knew it I’d been doing that for weeks, and then it became months, then it turned into years. Not much of any substance was ever getting done, other than drinking.

Now there’s nothing wrong with talking on the phone with friends. There’s nothing wrong with sitting and watching TV or watching a movie. But if that bottle of beer, glass of wine or after dinner cocktail was the catalyst to wasting time, then even casual boozing is eating your life away. When drinking distracts you from doing what you wanted to do or should have done, then drinking is a problem.

Again, you don’t have to be a raging alcoholic for booze to be a problem in your life. Don’t you think it’s horrible for someone to waste their life away just sitting and drinking? To literally piss away money and time that they’ll never have again.

“Don’t waste your time or time will waste you.”

You don’t have to become a manic work freak. You don’t have to become some super-human accomplishment nutcase.

This isn’t a contest of who can be more sober or who can get more done. But please don’t rob yourself of your own time. Don’t allow drinking to distract you. Don’t let drinking consume your time and get in the way of you doing all the other things you want to do with your life.

I ask that you think about what you would like out of your own life. I would like you to evaluate—for yourself—whether you spend more time in the act of drinking than you would like to. Evaluate for yourself if even casual drinking is creating a distraction from accomplishing what you would like. Is drinking getting in the way of living how you would like to live. You may not even realize that it is getting in the way. Maybe this blog article or podcast will get you thinking about how much time even casual drinking takes up. Maybe you never realized that drinking distracts you from doing all that you want to do.

This is your own life, don’t rob yourself of the limited amount of time you have. You must also take other people’s lives into consideration, especially if you’re raising a family. Kids, spouse, family and friends all require your time.

We all have the same 24 hours per day. In that sense, we are all created equal. If you want to drink away some of your limited time, then do so. But remember that you’re making an exchange. If you’re doing one thing, then that means you can’t be doing something else.

It seems to me that many of my life’s unwanted and unexpected problems weren’t real problems, they were usually brought on as a result of my drinking. Drinking distracted me from doing what I should have been doing. I’m more than 10 years sober and I’m still paying on some of those hidden costs I spoke of earlier.

For your own sake, please think about how valuable your time is and don’t let habitual or destructive drinking distract you from using your time to its fullest. “Don’t waste your time or time will waste you.”

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Is it ever good to lie?” (06/24/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Is there ever a good reason to lie to someone? Specifically, is it helpful to pass along false hope when someone is in the early stages of sobriety? This is a tough question I am often faced with. I have no idea if getting sober will be the best thing you ever did for yourself. I don’t know if it will work out marvelously or if it will be a boring or heart wrenching turn of events. Usually, turning yourself into a non-drinker does produce a lot of benefits, but there will be some disappointments and some unwanted consequences as well.

Nobody could have told me how the last 10 years would have played out for me. And if anyone would have been able to tell me how things were going to transpire, I probably wouldn’t have believed them or I wouldn’t have wanted to believe them. In hindsight, I’m rather glad that I was lied to. Most of what has taken place over the past 10 years has been completely unexpected. Much of it has been better than I ever imagined, but I have also encountered a lot of sadness and disappointment. Yet in the overall perspective, I have no regrets for stopping my personal destructive drinking hobby.

I seriously believe that if I wouldn’t have been lied to, I don’t think I would have even made an attempt at becoming sober. If I would have been told what was going to happen, I would have said “Fuck this. I’ll stay just as I am.” Even if I could have foreseen all of the interesting and fun future events I was about to embark upon, I would have also seen all the pain and bullshit I was going to have to endure and I never would have sobered up.

So I am grateful that I was lied to, but I am more grateful that I had an awakening and then accepted the realities that come with sobriety. I came out of fantasy land and had to accept that living sober just might really suck at times and that I had to make the best out of the way things were turning out for me. I don’t fault those who lied to me for the pain and disappointments that came to my world after I sobered up. I believe they had good intentions. And in truth, I think they even believed the lies themselves.

I believe that if people aren’t ever lied to they would never attempt anything. They would never attempt to start a business, they’d never get married and certainly never make an attempt at living sober. That’s why I tread cautiously when people ask (or email) me questions like: “Should I leave my spouse? Should I move? Should I change jobs? Should I quit drinking?” I don’t want to say the wrong thing, so I often lie a little.

There are different types and degrees to lying. There are lies of commission and lies of omission. If I ask you, “Did you steal my watch?” And you say “No,” but you’re wearing my watch, that’s a lie of commission. Lies of omission are what politicians use. They might either avoid giving an answer or they might be less forthcoming with the truth. For instance, let’s say someone asks me if living sober will be the best thing for them. I can give a partly honest answer by saying, “Well you’ll be healthier and you’ll save a lot of money.” But then I will give a lie of omission by saying, “However, I don’t know if it will turn out all that great for you. But it’s worth a try. You can always go back to being a drunk.”

I am avoiding telling them some truths. I don’t want to come right out and say, “You’ll probably be miserable for a while. You’ll likely be bored out of your skull at times. You’ll probably lose a few friends and you might end up with some other relationship problems that you don’t expect. But then again, you might not.”

People want to hear assurances, so I will be evasive but I won’t outright lie. I don’t want to deflate someone’s hopes; they may never put in a full effort or even try if it all sounds distasteful. Yet I also don’t want to offer false hopes. It isn’t that I don’t want to give an answer. I want to avoid giving a wrong answer or bad advice. I don’t have to live with the results or ramifications of their decisions. I try to get the other person involved in answering their own questions.

I will respond with, “I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that.”  Or, “If it were me, I would probably do it this way. But you’re not me and you need to decide what YOU think is best for you.” I don’t think it’s wrong to lie a little when someone approaches you about learning to live as a non-drinker. But I do caution that you don’t offer false or grandiose expectations. I was told a lot of lies and believed that “if I sober up, all that I had lost would be regained.” When my world got even worse after I had stopped drinking, I felt like I was wasting my time. I felt that I had no alternative than to go back to drinking. All sorts of bad shit was happening in my life. But for some reason (maybe my mental clarity?), I knew that drinking wouldn’t make things better again. I knew that things would only get worse than they were if I started drinking.

There were a variety of reasons why I continued on my path as a non-drinker. First off, I never want to give anyone the pleasure of seeing me fail. And plenty of people said I could never stay sober. Then, for some odd reason, I was enjoying my new found mental clarity. I figured that the struggle and pain I was going through was part of my penance. Now I actually enjoy the struggles and challenges of living a fun, rewarding life as a non-drinker. Sometimes the pain feels good.

I still lie to people. “Thanks for the invite, but sorry, I can’t make it. I have a lot of work to do tonight.” I don’t need to be blunt or hurtful by saying, “You annoy the fuck out of me, especially when you’re drunk. So I really don’t want to hang around you.” My goal in lying is to be pleasant, yet I need to protect and preserve my own sobriety. I know I sound a bit arrogant, but drunk people do annoy me. But that’s okay. I know that when I was a drunk I annoyed the fuck out of plenty of people. Some of my friends (and family) avoided me or didn’t want to hang out with me or attend events with me. I feel bad that I had to put them in the awkward position of having to lie to me just because I was a drunk.

You can’t help everyone. You can’t save everyone. But you can be supportive of someone even if you’re committing a lie of omission. I see nothing wrong with saying, “It might turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself and your family. Things may turn out better than you imagine. But I assure you that there will be some unpleasant surprises along the way. But you won’t know until you try. So why don’t you just try living sober? See how it turns out.”

In closing I want to spend a moment to promote my book: Okay, I quit. Now what? (It’s available in paperback, eBook and Audiobook.) I think it’s a really good and helpful book. It isn’t a book that tells you what you should do. It’s a book that invites you to think on your own behalf. It invites you to make plans of your own. You don’t have to follow any steps or read it from front to back. You can skip around and dive into the areas and topics that are of interest to you. I can’t make you sober, but I can help you get a better idea of what you want out of sobriety and out of your life. What’s the worst that can happen? You can always go back to being a drunk.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“There’s always a reason to drink.” (06/15/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

I haven’t had a drink in over 10 years, but I can still find a good reason to drink.

I’m sad.

I’m happy

I just got some bad news.

I just got some good news.

I’m bored.

Everyone else drinks.

I won’t have any fun if I don’t.

This event (party, concert, picnic, funeral, ballgame, whatever) won’t be any fun if I don’t drink.

It’s time to celebrate.

It’s time to hide or forget.

I just feel like getting drunk.

Every day I am faced with a dozen reasons to drink. Some of those reasons sound pretty good. Some of them sound quite valid. But none has ever gotten me to crack. I know enough about myself to realize that once I start I’m not stopping. I have no desire to moderate—one or two drinks wouldn’t be any fun for me. I know that if I drink I am getting loaded. So my only alternative is to completely abstain from any alcohol.

How do I get control over my daily reasons to drink? Well, I have no super human powers. I have no magical sobriety secrets which I hold. I don’t ask some invisible higher power to give me strength. There is no higher power over me than the power I have over my own hands. I personally control my own hands and I don’t pick up a drink. I control my hands and don’t pick up beer or booze when I go grocery shopping. I control my own hands and feet and don’t pull my car into the parking lot of a liquor store or bar. I use the power of my own hands and feet to avoid temptations before I am even faced with the temptation.

There are plenty of reasons to drink, just being alive brings about those reasons, and I can’t control the reasons. But I can control the temptations. If I don’t have any booze in my house, I can’t be tempted to drink it when I have a reason. If I don’t hang out where people are drinking, I can’t be tempted to drink when I have a reason to join in. I often have to decline going to events or attending parties. If I do go to parties or picnics I make sure that I bring my own cooler with me. I bring water or NA beer. As long as I have a “cold one” in my hand I don’t have people offering to get me something.

Does this sound boring? Sometimes it is. Does this sound like you’ll have to shut yourself into your house or apartment and stay away from the world? Sometimes that’s what you’ll have to do. There are plenty of other temptations I face (and we all face) in life so I make sure that I control the opportunity for a temptation to escalate.

I even feel that going to AA meetings only builds my desire to drink. All the discussions about boozing and bad behavior only makes me think about it more. And as such, it creates a temptation for me, so I don’t attend meetings. (I’d be willing to bet that my list of reasons to drink at the beginning of this article even got some of you salivating and thinking about drinking.) I’m not trying to piss off people who go to AA, follow a 12-step system or any other faith based system. I would never say that you’re wrong. All I ask is that you accept that your system works for you but please don’t try to force it on me or anyone else.

You’ll notice that I’m not trying to talk anyone out of following a system, I’m just telling you how I go about it. But just because I do something a certain way doesn’t mean that you have to do it that way or that it will even work for you. I don’t even know if my method is the best for me, but it seems to work for me, I haven’t had a drink in over 10 years.

Life is all about temptation and reasons to act on those temptations. As I said earlier, there’s always a reason to act on a temptation and some are pretty good. Temptation and thinking about temptation isn’t all bad—acting on temptation by doing what harms you or actually doing the wrong thing is bad.

I am tempted all day long every day. I’m tempted to get away with anything I can. I’m tempted to steal, to lie, to cheat, to be lazy, to gossip, to be rude, to be careless, to be heartless, to be inconsiderate, to only care about my own satisfaction and to drink. But I overcome the temptations through self-control.

Deep down inside you and I know what’s right and what’s wrong. We know what’s good for us and what’s bad for us. We know what will or won’t harm someone else. And we really do have a choice in what we’ll do. We choose to either do what’s right or do what’s wrong. We choose to act on a temptation or to overpower the temptation.

Here are a few questions I would like you to ponder:

How do you feel when temptation hits?

How do you feel when you’re ready to act on a temptation?

How do you feel when you say “No” to a temptation?

How do you feel after you’ve given in to a temptation?

I know how I feel during all those stages. Much depends on what the temptation is. But I’ll give you an example from my own life. I’m an exercise nut. I exercise because it keeps me in good physical shape and then I feel better about myself. I sleep better, I perform better and I think better. But I don’t always feel like exercising. I get the temptation to skip a workout. But I know that if I skip today I’ll probably begin to skip more often. So my temptation is to NOT do something. I can sense that my mind is beginning to make up excuses (reasons). So I’ll catch myself and go do it now. I might start exercising and not feel like giving it my all. I’m tempted to cheat, but I’ll just push myself through it. After I’m done with my workout I feel good about myself. I might physically feel spent, but I feel good mentally. I feel proud that I pushed temptation out of the way and exercised. I feel really good about beating up on temptation.

I am no smarter or better than you. I firmly believe that we’re all smart enough to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Some people are more willing to do wrong things, and those that do wrong things know it’s wrong in the first place or they wouldn’t have to lie or cover it up. I further believe that you’re also smart enough to know how and when to avoid temptation. It’s not always easy to avoid temptation and it doesn’t feel all that fun to avoid temptation. But if you’re serious about living as a non-drinker or non-user then you’ll have to impose a bit of self-control.

Temptations and reasons to do the wrong thing will always exist. On the other side of this is the temptation to avoid or keep putting off doing the right thing. Not doing the right thing is the temptation that I constantly struggle with. I can conjure up all sorts of ridiculous reasons to not do what I should do. Not doing what you should do can hold you back and harm you in different ways than doing the wrong thing.

I believe that most of this simply comes down to procrastination. Without goals and without a plan of action to accomplish goals, procrastination takes over. Procrastination seems to be the biggest and strongest temptation of all.

You can always find a reason to do or not do anything. You can always find a reason to drink or do drugs. But alcohol and drugs aren’t the enemy, procrastination is the enemy and that is one enemy you do have control over. You know what’s right and wrong and you know when you’re procrastinating. Stop procrastinating and start making your life better.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

The ultimate power trip! (05/04/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

What is the ultimate power trip to you? Is it driving a fast car, a fast motorcycle, a fast boat? Is it making a big sale, operating heavy equipment or telling people what to do because you’re the boss? Maybe it’s none of those things or maybe it’s something completely different from what I mentioned.

To me, the ultimate power trip is when I exhibit self-control over my own behaviors, emotions, actions and words. I get to experience that power trip every day, multiple times a day, and so can you.

The ultimate power trip isn’t about controlling other people, it’s about controlling yourself. Self-control isn’t just about not drinking (or doing drugs), it’s about not arguing, it’s about not gossiping, it’s about not criticizing people, it’s about eating less or smaller portions if you’re on a diet, it’s about exercising when you don’t feel like it, it’s about not spending money that you don’t have, it’s about doing a job right and completely, it’s about NOT being a total asshole to everyone around you. Self-control truly is an exhilarating power trip. It not only benefits you, it benefits everyone you come in contact with.

Self-control is the foundation to living as a non-drinker and non-user. I have full control over my own hands and I use self-control to put my hands to good use. I decide whether I want to use my hands to pick up a bottle, a pill, a spike a pipe—or to NOT pick it up. I know that once I pick up the bottle and then use my own hands to pour it into my mouth, I have no control over what the substance in the bottle will do to my body or my mind.

For instance, if I pick up a bottle of Super Turbo Laxative and drink it, I have no control over what it will do to my body. I will be pooping like a goose in about a half hour. The substance is going to do what it’s supposed to do and I have no control over that. I know this is going to happen, so I exhibit the self-control to not pick up and drink an entire bottle of laxative. It’s no different with alcohol. I have control over whether I will pick it up or not. Once I pour it into my mouth, with my own hands, I have no control over what it will do to my body and my mind.

Substances like beer, wine, liquor and laxatives are designed to automatically change how your body normally functions. These substances do this without your consent. The only consent you have given is the self-controlled introduction of the substance into your own body. So don’t be surprised that you get drunk when you drink alcohol and don’t be surprised when you get a case of explosive diarrhea after drinking a bottle of laxative. But remember that you had total control of the substance before you willingly poured it into your own mouth.

Laxatives, like liquor, can be fine in small quantities. But too much at once or over an extended period of time can do you a lot of harm. A little amount of laxative may be helpful if you’re a bit bound up. But you still wouldn’t want to drink an entire bottle in one sitting and you wouldn’t drink it every day. I’m sure that if you were at a party or hanging out in a bar and someone offered you a bottle of Super-Turbo laxative you would have the self-control to say, “No thanks, I’m good.” You would exhibit self-control and not take a swig off the bottle.

You might think that my comparison of laxatives to liquor is ridiculous. You’re more than welcome to think that way. But if you were to seriously think about the comparison, I believe you’ll likely find some points of agreement with me.

#1: Too much of either can turn you into a mess.

#2: Drinking too much of either every day will be harmful to your body in the long run.

#3: Drinking either of them every day, even in small quantities, will change how your body normally functions.

I fully understand that self-control isn’t always that easy to exhibit. But it is easier when your mind isn’t already altered by some outside substance. Once you have allowed a mind or body altering substance into your bloodstream, that’s when you become physically powerless over it.

When disappointment, stress, struggles and temptation strike, YOU DO have the opportunity and the right to exhibit self-control. But just because you have the “right” doesn’t mean you will use self-control. I have every legal right to drink when I’m stressed, disappointed, going through struggles or simply tempted to drink, but I take the opportunity to then exhibit my self-control and not drink. I will only become powerless if I put the substance into my body.

I recently experienced a very disappointing situation. I was saddened by it. Then the more I thought about the situation the madder I got. I wanted to lash out at those who disappointed me. I wanted to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to pack up, leave and tell everybody “to go get fucked.” But with a little self-control I held off from doing all of those things. None of those behaviors would have changed the situation and I probably would have only made a bad, irrational decision and then would have made things even worse for myself. Instead, I used my self-control. I quietly listened as this disappointing news was delivered to me. The delivering party was a bit stunned that I showed no emotion. They were waiting for (or possibly expecting) some sort of outburst or backlash from me. So what I did was calmly say, “I’ll have to spend some time and evaluate this new information.” They were wondering (and still are wondering), what I’m going to do about it. I haven’t decided yet. But by exhibiting self-control I didn’t say or do anything that I will regret. And trying to drink away my sadness and disappointment would have been a huge regret. Even though I may be disappointed, I am NOT powerless.

I have heard it said that for those who claim that they are “powerless” there is nothing to turn to but superstition and then to blindly follow others who do have power. Self-control gives you power and it allows you to decide who or what you want to follow. If you want to follow a certain philosophy, political party, recovery system or religion, then exhibit self-control and make the decision yourself of whether you want to follow or not. Don’t just do it because someone else says you should do it. Self-control gives you the power.

Self-control may mean you have to pass on offers to go out and party with your friends. It may mean that you have to pass on all sorts of offers to go do things because you feel it might put you in a situation where you’ll be tempted to drink or use. I’m quite a few years into my life of being a non-drinker, so I’m able to make it through situations which may have been trigger temptations in the past or during the early stages of my sobriety. But now I find myself passing on certain invitations because some of these events or gatherings just aren’t fun for me to attend. It doesn’t bother me (or cause me to be tempted), when I hang out with people who drink socially or casually. I just don’t like hanging around drunk people. They annoy me and I have the self-control to get up and leave when I’m annoyed. I’d rather have the self-control to leave than to hang around and need to call on my self-control to not say shitty things to people.

In summary, the ultimate power trip isn’t had by controlling other people, it’s experienced by controlling yourself. Self-control puts the power back into your own hands and YOU can experience the ultimate in power trips every day. Bask in your own power, enjoy your self-control. Let your self-control guide you to do the right thing. Even if it’s saying “no” to an inviting offer, or by you deciding to go to a meeting, going to church or just staying home and exercising, reading a book, watching a movie or browsing interesting stuff on the internet. Your mind may crave and desire a substance, but the only time you become physically powerless over the substance is after you’ve willingly put it into your own body. Experience the ultimate power trip by exhibiting self-control and watch great things happen for you and for those around you.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

Do you really want what you want? (04/16/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

I have touched on this subject many times. You believe that you really want something (a new job, a new car, a new spouse, whatever), but will any of those things actually make a difference in your overall happiness? Sometimes getting what you think you want does make a difference. Getting a better or higher paying job can certainly help with your financial happiness. Getting into a caring and fun relationship can help. Getting out of a violent or stressful relationship is definitely a positive but it still may not help your overall happiness. In most instances I believe that what we really want is the feeling of happiness that we think we’ll get if we get what we want. Allow me to explain.

Advertisers take advantage of this all the time. Advertisers show (and tell) you how you’ll feel if you use their product or service. Apple computer’s shows people printing off beautiful reports, creating dynamic flyers and comprehensive spreadsheets. Then the person flies out the office door and is seen dancing happily in the street. Apple commercials don’t show someone sitting in front of a computer typing in data for hours on end or staring blankly into space trying to figure out what words to write into their manuscript. They show you the end result, and that end result is you feeling excited about being so creative and productive. Beer commercials do the same thing. They show how cool you’ll look dancing in the nightclub or having a great time at a picnic or while watching sports. They show you what you will feel like; they don’t show that you get that feeling by being drunk. Hell, I’ve felt good and excited while seal coating an asphalt driveway just because I was drunk. I got tar and shit all over the place but I had fun. It had nothing to do with productivity or a specific brand. I enjoyed myself because I was drunk.

Let me give you a real life example of wanting something. Let’s say that you think you want a new Smartphone (or whatever), and that this Smartphone will bring you happiness. You go buy the phone and you get the rush of buying it and you’re all excited. You take it home and begin using it. At that point you may get frustrated while learning about all of its features and various apps. Some features you may not understand how to make them work. After you’ve had it a couple of weeks you’ve grown accustomed to it and it’s a normal part of your life—it’s no longer a new toy and you might already be thinking about upgrading to an even newer version that sounds even more exciting. The phone itself (and all of its features and apps), may have helped make some areas of your life more pleasant, but did it bring you new friends? Did it really satisfy your desire for happiness? For some of you it might have. For other people it only served as a brief sensation of happiness and now you’re on to desiring a newer phone or some other toy.

I have fallen prey many times to thinking I wanted something, only to get what I wanted, and then what I wanted didn’t turn out as good as I thought it would or I only ended up wanting something else instead. I have found that when I honestly think about the end result that I’m searching for do I uncover what I am truly in search of. During the course of this thinking process I often discover an alternative to what I originally thought I wanted or I discover something completely different that works out even better.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting stuff or wanting something. I’m a self-proclaimed unapologetic capitalist. Nice stuff is great to have and nice stuff can and does bring me certain types of happiness. There’s nothing wrong with getting what you want. And the best part about getting what you want is that sometimes it turns out to be just as good or better than you had hoped for. But I am also conscious of the fact that happiness is an emotional state of living, and my happiness level is always changing and evolving. I don’t delude myself into thinking that one single item or fulfilled want will make me happy for eternity. I believe in the words of Thomas Jefferson that we all equally have the right to pursue happiness. To me, happiness is living and experiencing the pursuit of our wants and desires.

I believe it’s particularly important to think about and understand why you want something and what you hope the end result will bring about.

This brings me to the subject of sobriety. Do you really want to get sober or do you just want to have fewer problems due to excessive drinking? Maybe you just need to exhibit more self-control? Maybe all you need is a plan or a personalized set of guidelines and limits. Some of us aren’t able to stick to guidelines and limits once the first drink is poured into our mouth. So for those of us who have no control once we start drinking, complete abstinence is our best plan. But maybe for some of you all you need is a set of limits. I’m not trying to talk you into drinking and you can’t use me as an excuse to drink or to have a relapse.

You need to be honest with yourself about whether you want to live totally sober or almost sober. Be honest with yourself with what you hope (and think) sobriety will bring to your life. For instance, if you hope (and think) that sobriety will solve all of your personal, emotional, relationship, health and financial problems, you will be in for a rude awakening. Sobriety in itself won’t do it. YOU have to do it, but sobriety will allow you to approach your situations and problems with a clear mind and then you will have to take action to address and correct those problems.

I know what I want out of sobriety. I want a healthy body and I want a vibrant mind. I want to use my limited finances wisely. I want to have fun and enhancing interactions with other people. Living sober doesn’t automatically give me all of these things. I have to take action and put forth effort to pursue these wants. I use my sober, clear mind to make an exercise plan and then I need to use my self-control to take the time to exercise. I must also use my sober brain to take the time to exercise my mind through reading and furthering my knowledge and education. I must exhibit self-control over my spending and I must engage with interesting and thoughtful people. I can’t just sit back and say, “Alright, I’m sober. Go ahead body get fit. Go ahead mind, get smart. Go ahead Mark, be happy.” It is through the pursuit of these wants which makes me happy. Living as a non-drinker improves my chances of getting what I want from sobriety.

Do you REALLY want what you think you want?

I encourage you to think for yourself. I encourage you to deeply ponder what you want. I ask that you think beyond what you want and think about what the result of getting what you want will be.

This isn’t intended to discourage you from wanting better things and wanting different conditions. Having goals and desires is what motivates you forward. I’m encouraging you to think more about what you REALLY want. This will aid you in controlling impulsiveness. Impulsive actions often lead to regretful actions followed by regretful results. By truly knowing what you REALLY want you will be in a better position to take more control of your actions in the pursuit of your own happiness.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

What will you do TODAY? (03/31/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

If you hear yourself saying, “Same old shit, different day,” then you have fallen into a mental rut. There’s a quick way to get out of that rut, and that is by asking yourself the question: “What will I do today—using my natural and unique talents—to help other people and in turn ultimately help myself?” I’m serious when I say that through helping other people you will ultimately help yourself. And by helping other people this will help get you out of the mental rut of, “Same old shit, different day.”

What does this have to do with sobriety? I believe that being of help to other people is a great way to make sobriety, and your life, work in your favor. I believe that by being of help to others, this gets you thinking outside of yourself and thinking beyond sobriety and it will help you develop into a better person. It helps you begin living a pleasant life and helps you go about life feeling normal in your status as a non-drinker. And I further believe that most of the people who read my books, read my blogs and listen to my podcasts desire to live a normal life that isn’t completely focused on meetings and spreading the word of sobriety.

This is a really great question to ask yourself every morning: “What can I do today to help others?” You may want to structure it as a more active question such as: “What will I do today to help others?” (There’s a very subtle difference here. The word “Can” is questioning the possibility. The word “Will” is demanding an action response from you.)

You are able to help others no matter your situation. You may hate your job and your actual job duties might limit your ability to directly be of help to others, but the rest of your time is yours and somehow within that time you certainly can help others. Helping others doesn’t mean you have to give away all of your money or donate all of your free time to charity. You can simply be helpful to others by being courteous. Holding doors open for people, allowing someone to merge or change lanes. Letting someone go before you in the grocery checkout line. I suggest you do these things just for the pure joy of being nice. Don’t do this as an investment. You can, but do it because you want to. Do it because it will make someone else’s life easier or more pleasant.

Solidly sustaining businesses are built around this philosophy. Ethical businesses and ethical entrepreneurs always look for ways to satisfy the wants, desires and needs of other people. Even the “sin” companies follow this philosophy. Beer, wine, alcohol and tobacco companies may be “evil” but they supply a product that people want. Con-men follow this philosophy (kind of). A con-man will prey on someone else’s hopes and desires, claiming that he will help them achieve their desires. Ethical people revel in helping others and enjoy the benefits that each receive. Con-men simply enjoy their own benefits received while being of no legitimate help to anyone but themselves. I present both cases as evidence that helping others is clearly the way to help yourself.

In the bigger scheme, thinking of ways to help others will be a good foundation if you want to start your own business or want to escalate within the company you work for. Even if you do look at this from an investment point of view, helping other people is a major part of building any successful enterprise, not just a business enterprise but the enterprise of your life. At its core, helping other people is the greatest way to advance your own happiness.

At this point you might be saying, “I’ve tried all that shit and it never pays off. I am nice to people but nothing good ever happens to me. I just helped a friend move and the fucker never did anything back for me in return.” Well, if you wanted something back in return then you should have presented those terms up front. You help other people because you want to. If you are expecting something in return you need to make it clear. “Well, they could have at least said, “Thank you.” I agree, people should say “thank you” and “please”. People should also use their turn signals and merge onto the freeway properly—but they don’t. So what. That doesn’t mean you have to be the same way.

Don’t expect to be rewarded outwardly for your helpful behaviors. Karma and all that other stuff isn’t logged on a balance sheet. In fact, you can be helpful to people all of your life and never have anything outstanding happen for you in return. The rewards you will get are internal. It’s how it will make you feel. Just knowing that you have helped someone else will help you feel better about yourself.

You’re more than welcome to behave and act however you want to, but I assure you that when you think outside of yourself and beyond yourself and begin helping other people you will notice changes. The changes might not be materialistic or reflected in job advancements or good karma, it may only be with how you feel about yourself. But isn’t feeling good about yourself worth it?

Some of you may think that this advice about helping others is very similar to Step #12. It isn’t. Helping others isn’t solely focused on spreading the word of sobriety. Preaching sobriety to people isn’t helping. Living your life normally and enjoying life as a non-drinker is the best way to help. Allowing others to see you living well is the greatest way to show the virtues of your own sobriety. When others come to you and ask, “How can I be like you?” then you have opportunity to help them along with their sobriety.

Here’s an example. A couple of weeks ago I gave an acquaintance a ride to the grocery store because she didn’t have a car with her. She spent over $90.00 on beer, wine and some booze. That was just for the next week. I bought steaks and some other items and spent under $50.00. Eventually I was asked, “How do you live so well?” Simple answer: “Because I don’t spend any of my money on booze, at bars or on drugs. So I can live quite well on a lower income.” And I live near Key West, which is not a very cheap place to live.

Will my statement make a difference in her behavior? I doubt it. But I’m sure it will get her thinking and maybe someday she’ll contact me again to learn more about drinking in moderation or living as a non-drinker. But I was at least being helpful by giving her a ride to the store and answering her question.

Helping others is about stepping away from yourself and your own world. What will you do today to help a co-worker? To help a family member? To help a friend? To help someone you don’t even know? What will you do today to help yourself feel like a better person and help yourself forget about the tough times you might encounter as a non-drinker?

Tomorrow morning ask yourself: “What will I do today—using my natural and unique talents—to help other people and in turn ultimately help myself?” I don’t expect people to remember this question and ask themselves this every morning when they awake. It is easier to ponder this at the end of the day. “What did I do today that helped other people?” But regardless of when you think about this, it’s worth asking.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

Say what you mean. (03/02/16)

September 26th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Words carry different meanings depending on how they are arranged in writing and how you present them orally. You may be saying, “Duh, no shit Mark, I know this.” But you would be surprised by how many people don’t actually say what they mean (and not just politicians), and how many people become frustrated when the person they’re talking to, “Just doesn’t get it.” I believe that this is more often the fault of the person presenting the words and not the fault of the recipient.

For example, my brother David is a real live scientist. His fields are electrochemistry and ramen spectroscopy. So if he’s going to explain some theory or principle to me, it’s his fault if he uses technical jargon and equations that I don’t understand. He needs to use simple words and examples that I can recognize and comprehend.

So we have two distinct obstacles to overcome.

#1): Use words and examples the other person can understand.

#2): Say exactly what you mean.

Both of these obstacles get in the way of true connection when communicating.

How is this relevant to getting sober or maintaining sobriety? In the real world of personal interactions with other people, most of us want to be nice or would like to avoid confrontation, so we often don’t actually say what we mean.

For instance, if you’re determined to not drink but your friends want you to go out and party or meet them at a bar, you need to clearly say “No.” Don’t say, “I’ll see what I can do” or “If I get all my stuff done I might be able to meet you there.” They’ll keep calling or texting you all night and tempting you to join them. If you mean “No” then say “No.” This will stop the calls and texts from coming in all night and you’re also confirming with yourself that you really meant “No.”

When I suggest that you say exactly what you mean I’m not inferring that you speak harshly and neglect to edit a bit. If someone asks you, “Does this dress make me look fat?” You don’t answer with, “The dress is fine. Your ass makes you look fat.” Tact and editing are part of good communication. Tact is saying the appropriate words. Editing is also refraining from saying too many things or adding words that have no bearing on the subject being discussed. I’ve been the recipient of many conversations where I have had to stop the other person and ask, “What does that have to do with THIS issue?” Or, “Can we please keep to one subject at a time?” Or even hold up my hands and give the ‘timeout’ signal and ask, “Excuse me, but what the hell are you talking about?”

You don’t need an expansive vocabulary to say exactly what you mean. If you want to make a request or want to express an opinion or need to give a direct order, say what you mean in clear, simple terms. If you don’t clearly say what you mean you can’t blame the other person for not understanding what you are trying to get across to them. And get over your own pride and ego. If you don’t know the answer to something, then say, “I don’t know the answer to that right now, but we’ll find out.” I respect bosses and leaders who answer with such honesty.

Here’s what I do in conversations. You might want to consider trying this. I listen to the other person intently. I try not to interrupt. I wait and think through my words before I respond. I must admit that this sometimes makes people uncomfortable. They often wonder if I’m paying attention to them or if I’m taking them seriously. They’re often a bit confused because I don’t interrupt while they’re speaking. But that’s because I’m actually listening to them. I also take my time in responding. When I do respond I pay attention to not only my words, but to my tone of voice, volume of my voice and delivery speed of my words. Words are the data, but your tone, speed and volume is the music, it’s what enhances the value of your words.

If I’m confused or uncertain about what someone is saying to me, I’ll come right out and ask, “I’m not sure if I’m understanding you correctly. Can you please expand on that?” Or, “How do you mean that? I want to make sure I’m understanding you correctly.” I don’t mind asking for examples. I want the speaker to get their thoughts across to me clearly and I want to make sure that I truly understand their words and the meaning behind their words. You can help others say what they mean by asking them questions.

I don’t blame the other person if they don’t “get” what I’m saying. It’s my fault if you don’t understand the message I’m trying to convey, whether it’s the spoken word or in writing. The recipient of my message isn’t dumb. They can’t read my mind and I certainly don’t want them trying to read my mind. I want to make sure the other person clearly receives what I’m saying. I’ll even stop during my own conversation and ask the other person, “Am I explaining myself clearly?” Don’t overcomplicate your message or expect that the other person automatically knows what you’re talking about.

The concept of, “say what you mean,” isn’t exclusively limited to the spoken word. Read your own emails, texts or posts BEFORE you hit send or submit. Look for spelling and auto-correct errors. Auto-correct might insert a word you don’t want. Even check your punctuation. Rambling sentences without any stops or punctuation will make your message confusing to the recipient(s). Read your email from the eyes of the recipient. This isn’t always easy to do because YOU know what you’re talking about, but will your reader? Does your email (or post) make sense? Are ideas and subjects all muddled together? Is there clear separation between thoughts and subjects?

Punctuation and separate paragraphs aren’t just about following the Elements of Style laid out by Strunk and White. Periods tell the reader that this sentence has ended and a new one will be starting. Breaks for a new paragraph help the reader grasp that expansion on the same subject is taking place or that a new subject is about to be discussed. Stops, punctuation and breaks allow your reader to consume and then mentally digest your message.

This is all about making sure that people are communicating their intended messages. Always consider that your listener (reader, etc.), isn’t at fault for not understanding your message. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you present your message in way and in terms that the other person will understand it and grasp it.

You’ve likely noticed that this article isn’t solely focused on sobriety. Not drinking is just one part of sobriety. What you do and how you live the rest of your life, after you’ve become a non-drinker, is what brings the rewards of sobriety. Use your clear, sober mind to learn the craft of becoming a better communicator.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.