Archive for March, 2012

Make your emotions work for you:

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Audio version of this blog article

Most people believe that emotions such as joy, love and happiness are good – but emotions like anger, frustration or boredom are bad. However these are ALL normal emotions and each of them can be directed towards productive purposes. When you become too emotional (up or down), you can’t think straight. We drunks like to temper or numb those emotional extremes by drinking.

Emotions are mental “thoughts” that you feel and then act or react to. Key point here: “thoughts.” They feel real and they ARE real, but they are still just thoughts – things you are thinking about and perceiving in your mind. Those thoughts can then turn into physical pains and harmful behaviors.

Emotions are generated (created) within specific areas of the brain: the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulated cortex (there are a lot of parts in your brain). Chemical changes take place within the brain during emotional states. There are chemicals like norepinephrine (which keeps you alert), there is serotonin (which makes you feel good), and cortisol (which will crank up your anxiety). These various chemicals are released during stages of thinking. If you’re all nervous and anxious, you’ll create and release cortisol which will make you more nervous and anxious. When you’re calm, relaxed and enjoying something pleasant, you release a bit of serotonin, making you feel even better.

This all happens so rapidly and in minute amounts that you don’t notice it taking place. Whatever your mood is seems natural to you – and it is natural – because your brain (the organ) is responding to what you’re thinking at the moment and it gives you the chemicals you need to feel the way you feel.

By the way, I’m not making this shit up. If you don’t believe me then do your own research and look this all up in medical and neuroscience books.

What does all this have to do with sobriety? I’m sure that I don’t have to explain that alcohol changes how some of these areas of the brain function, which is why people become irrationally emotional when drinking. After prolonged use of alcohol, these parts of the brain become accustomed to functioning with booze. Take away the booze and these parts of the brain don’t function very well. But it’s a short healing time for them to get used to functioning in sober clarity again.

When you hide from your emotions you’re not “tuned-in” to what you need at the moment. Now let me clarify that there’s a difference between being emotionally out of control and being tuned-in to your emotions. If you feel angry, that doesn’t mean you explode with an outburst of hate and insults. Slow down, think why you’re angry. Feel the anger but then address whatever it is that you’re angry with or at. Let me give a couple examples of emotions:

Anger: You can use anger to drive you along. You don’t take your anger out on someone else by hurting or harming them; you get angry at yourself and push yourself harder to live up to your standards. Another way to use anger is through proving others wrong. Has anyone ever said, “You’re no good, you’re worthless, you’ll never do it, you have no talent, you can’t stick to it, etc.?” Prove to that person that they are wrong about you. Prove to them that you CAN do it, you ARE talented and that you WILL stick to it. You don’t have to go out of your way to show them; they’ll find out.

I stay sober to prove to people that I can. Is that immature? Who cares? I’m sober and I’m not hurting anyone by staying sober. I will not give anyone who ever said I was worthless, weak or couldn’t stay sober the pleasure of seeing me fail. My anger releases adrenalin which I then turn into positively productive energy.

Risk: This encompasses the emotions of fear and over-enthusiasm. Fear and excitement are very similar with regard to the chemicals released and areas of the brain engaged. Fear itself and the fear of failure hold you back from many things in life. When you continue to think about your fear, the anxiety chemical cortisol is released and you become more fearful for no valid reason – other than higher levels of cortisol are present in your brain. You then fear taking on even a calculated risk, which then guarantees you no chance of success because you’ve taken on no risk.

The same can take place with over-enthusiasm and excitement. You’re so filled with adrenalin that you don’t think in rational terms and forge ahead with foolish behavior or disregard for outcomes. You end up throwing caution to the wind and blindly take on irrational risk.

I like to completely feel the sensation of fear. I let it rush through my body and then let it fade away so I can think clearly. I then undertake calculated risks and let my brain’s natural chemicals give me a fear or an enthusiasm rush.

I’m over 6-1/2 years sober and I experience anger, happiness, frustration, depression, all that shit. Sometimes my emotions get the better of me. When that happens I need to follow my own advice. I STOP and do nothing. I think about what emotion I’m feeling. I try to discover the cause of the emotion and whether it’s a valid emotion. I need to stabilize my emotions. I’m not hiding from them; I just don’t want them to lead me into an action or reaction that may be harmful to me or to someone else. Then, by releasing my emotions (through the proper means), I can get over it. And what are those proper means? It all depends on the emotion I’m experiencing.

If I’m bored I will work on some small project that needs to be done. This will engage my mind into paying attention to whatever I’m doing, even if it’s simply washing my dishes.

If I’m excited I will work on something constructive or go exercise.

If I’m mad about something I will typically call a trusted friend and ask if I can vent. Getting the anger off my chest releases it and I’m usually relaxed afterwards.

There are many more emotions and multiple ways to deal with them. You CAN change how you feel, based upon how and what you think about. Think about bad shit, your brain will give you bad feeling chemicals. Think about good stuff, your brain will give you feel-good chemicals. However, when you’re drunk, your brain isn’t sure of how much or when to release these chemicals, hence the wild mood swings or unexpected moods while drunk. When you undertake sobriety, emotions will be a new experience.

Emotions exist, so don’t hide from them and don’t let them get the best of you. Emotions are a result of how you think about conditions that exist. Learn to give yourself more of the emotional chemicals you want by slowing down and letting those chemicals do what they’re supposed to do. Learn as much as you can about your emotions, harness them and make them work for YOU.

You can’t hurry sobriety along:

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Audio version of this blog article

The decision to live sober can be a onetime event, but actually living sober is an ongoing process, it’s a continuous change in your way of life. Sorry, but you can’t hurry or rush sobriety along – you can’t just download the app and be done with it. Sobriety takes time. Oh sure, you can stay sober for a weekend, a week or a month. But if excessive drinking has become a habit in your life it will take time for sobriety to become a habit, and it will take time to start reaping the rewards of your effort.

Here’s an important thing to remember: Just because YOU decided to live sober, the world is not going to turn around and give you everything you want. A lot of things in life will improve, but not everything. Everything you have lost will not be regained, everything you want will not be acquired and everyone you know isn’t going to be thrilled about your newfound lifestyle. Sobriety doesn’t guarantee shit, other than that you’re sober.

I bring this up right now because I don’t want you to be under the belief or the impression that simply by living sober for 1 day, 10 days or 30 days – that everything is going to fall into place and life will be perfect. But what do I know? Maybe it will go that way for you? But for most of us, life will still happen, we just have to face it sober.

I could hardly wait to say “I’m 30 days sober.” But no matter how much I rushed it along, no matter how fast I wanted it to go, it still took 30 days. And once I hit 30 days did I experience some great reward or fabulous sensation? NO – it was just another day. Yes, it was a benchmark anniversary, but it was just another day. That’s all that sobriety is for me, just another day of life filled with everyday ups and downs and filled with everyday events, but I deal with them sober.

With that said, I feel that it is worth celebrating benchmark dates, to reflect, be proud and reinforce your resolve. And benchmarks and anniversary dates are where a reward system comes in. Drinking is immediate gratification: You drink and you catch a buzz. Sobriety is delayed gratification: You stay sober for 30, 60 or 90 days and you reward yourself. The reward doesn’t have to be all about YOU (even though it really is). As a reward you can invite someone special out to dinner, take your kids to a movie or some other event. Do something nice for your partner. The idea is to reward YOURSELF and anyone else you feel like rewarding. I mean, why go through all the effort of self-control to not drink or do drugs, to not spend your money on booze and drugs, and then not reward yourself?

And how is it that you can afford these rewards? That strategy is explained in my books. (What? I’m supposed to give all my ideas away for free? I gotta earn a living too you know.) My books are:

Living Sober Sucks (but living drunk sucks more)
Okay, I quit. Now what?

Both are available at Barnes & Noble,, Kindle, Nook, iBooks, iTunes and through my website.

So, back to sobriety taking time. It might take six months to a full year before you begin to notice the difference and the benefits to living sober. You might be thinking, “A year? Holy fuck,,, I don’t wanna wait that long.” Well too bad. Sobriety takes time. Sobriety is like saving for retirement. You save your money today so that you can use it in the future. If you save it today and use it tomorrow you won’t have shit for your retirement. And just like saving for retirement, if you do it right, plan ahead and sacrifice a little now, you might be able to retire early and live quite comfortably. And just like saving for retirement, you still have to live day to day and you still reward yourself occasionally with a vacation, a dinner out, a movie or whatever you find as rewarding.

I hear from a lot of former drunks who tell me stories about how they’ve been sober for six months or a year when suddenly some fantastic and amazing things happened. They’ve been recognized at work and they’ve gotten promotions, they’ve excelled in school, they’ve lost all the weight they wanted to, or they were shocked by someone else’s behavior. And shocked in a good way. “My kids want to hang out with me,” or “Suddenly my boyfriend said,,,” or “I couldn’t believe it when my wife said…” And what that person said was something complementary, encouraging or completely unexpected like, “I’m not going to drink when we go out tonight. I really want to enjoy my time with YOU.” It seems like these statements come out of the blue, but in reality your friends, family, kids, partner or coworkers are noticing changes, but those changes took time.

I wish I could tell you that within 10 days of living sober everything will work out perfect. I can’t guarantee that and I won’t give you those false hopes. And if you’re a grumpy, depressing, miserable fuck, people aren’t going to want to hang around you just because you’re sober. So along with changing your drinking habits you may want to change some of your interpersonal habits and behaviors. But you don’t have to do that to stay sober – you can be a sober asshole all you want. You just don’t drink, that’s how you stay sober.

Please don’t be deflated when I say it will take time to reap the rewards of sobriety, some great things may happen for you sooner than you expect. And while I also say, “Sobriety doesn’t guarantee shit,” I do know that your chances of a better life are greatly improved when you live sober than when you live drunk.

If you’re going to go without drinking and live sober, try it for at least 30 days. Yes, you will have to do it “one day at a time” to eventually reach 30 days, but some fantastic things may happen for you within your first 30 days. It might work out good for you, and then you go another 30 days. So why not try it for 30 days. What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t like it you can always go back to being a drunk. The choice is yours.

Luck and the drunk:

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Audio version of this blog article

Drunks live at the mercy of luck – I know I did. It might be the Shake of the day, getting home without being arrested, doing something without being caught, not having your spouse notice that you’re all fucked up again or simply getting laid by another drunk at the bar. That can also mean you hope you have more good luck and don’t get an STD or become/ get someone pregnant. Drinkers rely on good luck to help us get through life and we’re more than happy to issue blame on bad luck when things go wrong.

Luck has a long history behind it. Greek goddesses and Roman goddesses; Fortuna, Necessitas and Tychê. Notice that they’re all females? Hence the term “Lady Luck.” Philosophers and theologians have debated for just as long about the influence of luck, chance, destiny and determinism. I’ll leave the religious debate up to you. I want to share what I have come to understand about luck and the role it plays in the life of drunks and former drunks.

Luck is a factor which influences what happens to us in life.

I believe that luck, fortune and chance are all different events or conditions. You cannot control fortune (what ethnicity you were born, where you were born, what time in history you were born or your inherent attributes), but I believe that you can control a limited amount of your luck, and you can certainly control many aspects of chance.

I’m going to give an example of how I use the words: fortune, luck and chance.

Michael Jordan was fortunate to be born with his amazing athletic talents, but he was lucky to be born when he was. Had he been born 50 years earlier (even 20 years earlier), he may never have been recognized as an amazing athlete. So he wasn’t GIVEN good luck. He worked at honing his skills, he practiced and he played. He took chances and by risking failure he was lucky to be recognized for the talent that he is. But he didn’t stop there. He continued to utilize opportunities and he continued to hone his natural talents. He created his chances of good luck coming his way. Fortune gave him talent, his own effort along with taking chances created the opportunity to be the recipient of good luck.

So how does all this luck play into sobriety?

Almost any drinker who is in the middle of problems and hard times will point the causational finger at bad luck. I did it all the time when I was drinking. It was my way of telling myself and others, “I had nothing to do with this. Bad luck has singled me out because the universe hates me.” I never wanted to accept that my bad luck was usually a result of my behavior while I was drunk. So I blamed my failures on bad luck.

That’s similar to when people say, “It was bad luck that I got arrested for drunk driving.” Being arrested for drunk driving is an unfortunate event for YOU, but it isn’t a case of bad luck. You had control of the situation. You could have let someone else drive, walked home, taken a cab or not have drank in the first place. And maybe, just maybe it was good luck? Maybe you got pulled over one block before you accidentally would have hit and killed someone on a motorcycle? You don’t know. And consider how lucky you were all the other times you drove drunk and never got arrested.

Your chances of living a better life are improved when you eliminate the downside that excessive drinking brings. Your chances of good luck are improved when you take action and put forth effort to be happy. Luck can only happen when you take risks. There are so many elements, factors and outside influences to luck. So much takes place that we never see or hear.

Nestled deep within bad luck is always (yes, always) some good luck and vice versa. It all comes down to what you as an individual will turn it into. This has led me to an understanding that good luck is often disguised as disappointment or bad luck. The outcome of luck is not seen until the entire event has played out.

I’m going to use my own life to give examples. I feel very lucky in life. I was especially lucky as a drunk; I avoided or was spared many bad things occurring. Most (if not all) of the bad things that happened in my life were directly related to my behavior while I was drunk.(Notice that I don’t blame the alcohol – I blame myself for my own behavior – I knew that I was getting drunk.) On the other side, most (if not all) of the good luck I have encountered is a result of my sober behavior.

It takes time (sometimes years), to see whether an event was good luck or bad luck. Not until all aspects of an event have played out are we able to “look back” and determine if it was good luck or bad luck. I firmly believe that even bad luck can be turned into good luck, or at least minimized, if you accept the cold realities and decide to do something about it. I’ll use my own life again as an example. I am hurt and pained at the way some things worked out since (and because), I quit drinking. Initially when I quit I felt as if my luck had turned for the worse. I could hardly believe the bad shit that came crashing in on me: The ending of my marriage, the loss of friends, the loss of dreams, the loss of financial stability, the loss of happiness. At the time I never thought I would say this next part: “I can see that it has been good luck that certain events transpired the way that they have, no matter how much they have hurt me, it has been good luck for me to become sober. ” I can say this is only because I did what I just mentioned, I accepted the cold realities of the situations and cognitively worked at making the best out of the realities.

The best laid plans can and sometimes do go awry. You don’t know if something was good luck until everything has had time to pan out. For example, I can attempt to predict how you might answer a question (such as a marriage proposal), but I don’t know for fact how you will answer. Will I be lucky if you say “Yes”? Or would I have been luckier had you said “No”? I won’t know your answer until I ask and I won’t know if I was lucky for another 10 years. I was hoping that you will say “Yes” but I might have been luckier had you said “No.”

There is no balance sheet with luck. Two occurrences of bad luck doesn’t mean that you will have two future occurrences of good luck. Just because you make plans, study hard, work hard and behave appropriately doesn’t mean you are guaranteed good luck at a certain endeavor. But doing all the right things improves your chances of being the recipient of good luck.

Luck is an equalizer in many ways. You can be uneducated, overweight with bucked teeth and your chances of winning the lottery are just the same as a person who has money, beautiful teeth and an attractive body. Luck doesn’t take YOU into account personally, but luck can affect you personally.

Even if you are a believer in determinism – meaning that you believe God has everything planned out – I ask you to consider this: Just as God has given us a free will, maybe God has authorized luck to play a role in our human affairs? Maybe God allows for a little random happenstance to take place in your life? Your God may be giving you opportunities (both good and bad), and watching to see what you’ll do with them?

Both good luck and bad luck are not personal. While you may feel the results personally, neither happens as a conspiracy. But both are often a result of personal behavior. If you hang out in dangerous environments and exhibit unhealthy and dangerous behavior, your chances of bad luck are increased. And the same will occur with good luck. Make fruitful efforts and behave constructively, good luck has a better chance of occurring in your life.

No individual is deserving of good or bad luck either. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people – that’s just luck. Bad things can happen as a result of bad behavior and good things can be the result of constructive behavior. Many times, what we consider as “luck” is the result of our own actions.

Here are some ideas on how to make the best out of good luck and bad luck:

  • Improve your chances of good luck coming your way by putting forth healthy and calculated effort
  • Avoid bad luck (unfortunate events), by avoiding a self-destructive lifestyle
  • You are not better than any other person when good luck comes your way
  • You are not an awful person when bad luck comes your way
  • Don’t take bad luck personally, instead take the events as just part of your life
  • When you view an event as “luck,” consider if you had any involvement in the “luck” occurring

If drinking seems to always bring you nothing but problems and bad luck, then change your luck by eliminating one of the influencing factors; eliminate unhealthy drinking habits. Then improve your chances of being the recipient of more good luck by having plans and being productive towards reaching goals. Make the best out of events. Understand that “luck” is not personal.

I cannot teach you how to embrace luck. You must experience it for yourself and come to understand it for yourself. I wish YOU the best of luck at whatever you put effort into.

Is it foolhardy or is it liberating?

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Audio version of this blog article

I’ve talked with many former drunks and dopers who have said, “I feel more at ease and more in control when I have (drug of choice) in my house and I’m able to not use it. If I didn’t have it in the house I would be thinking about it more. I don’t understand the psychological process that is taking place here, but I feel stronger knowing that it is there but I can say no to it.”

I understand this. I have booze in my house. It means nothing to me. I even have a bottle of my favorite Scotch in the freezer (I’m too cheap to pour it out). But there’s also another element at play here. It is a mental state of being. My willpower is strengthened when I look at those bottles and cans and I can say, “You have no power over me.” There’s another reason I have booze in my house – it’s for other people to enjoy if they want to. Just because I have a problem doesn’t mean everyone else must pay my penalty. And finally, I am no longer a drinker, but I reserve the right to drink again if I ever want to. However, I know what consequences I will have to pay if I ever exercise that right.

Booze and drugs are all around us in this world. I can clear my house of all liquor but all I have to do is walk a block down the street and I can drink at a bar or buy booze when I’m at the grocery store. I can walk to my neighbor’s house and start drinking. I can sit in an AA meeting and right outside those doors there is a bar or a liquor store. The absence of the product doesn’t stop me from drinking, I stop myself from drinking.

I know that for many people it’s a good idea to completely purge their home of all alcohol. I did that at first – kind of. When I first sobered up I made sure that all of my favorite products were gone and I didn’t buy any more booze. (Fortunately the other person in the house drank everything that was left so I had no temptation sitting in front of me.) But I knew that all I had to do was walk out the door and there are dozens of bars, liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, all within walking distance that would gladly sell me booze.

Out-of-sight didn’t mean it was out-of-mind, I still thought about drinking and I still do to this date. But the thoughts are different. Now my thoughts have evolved into a sneakier stage, “What’s a couple of beers? Who would know? Who would care? It isn’t like I have to go out on a weeklong bender or start drinking every day.” Ahhh, I’m smarter than that. I know that even one little drink wouldn’t make my life any better so I stick to total abstinence.

So about having booze (or drugs) in your house. I’ll grant that you’re less likely to crack if it’s not sitting in front of you. Part of your “cleansing ceremony” may be that you pour out and dump all remnants of booze. But at some future point you may host a party, have guests over that drink or just have it around because you can. It’s YOUR decision. It’s your decision to have it in your house. And whether you like to admit it or not, it’s YOUR decision whether you pour it into your mouth or not.

You decide… will this be liberating – to look at a bottle of booze and know that it has no control over you – or will this be foolhardy? You have to decide what will be best for you.

What the mind sees is often tainted:

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Audio version of this blog article

We ask ourselves, “Why did this happen?” We then begin a mental search for correlations, “What was the cause?” Our mind wants answers, it demands answers. We prefer to see the cause (and therefore watch a visual sequence in our mind). Visual stimuli are interpreted as absolute.

Because our mind naturally wants answers we might conjure something up or misinterpret things; we want to issue blame for the cause on something or someone – even if we blame ourselves. When we can’t perceive the cause of something, that’s when we might find ourselves crediting God, i.e. “It was God’s will. God did (or didn’t) want this for me. It was God’s way of showing me that I need to quit drinking, etc.” When we credit God we still don’t have a concrete answer but at least we have an answer (”God’s will”), and our mind can move on to the next shiny piece of foil that draws our attention.

If you are satisfied with the answer of, “It must be God’s will,” that’s okay. It’s YOUR answer and it works for YOU. My purpose is not to persuade you against your belief. My purpose is to rouse you to think on your own a little.

Life is complicated with many various factors playing a role in daily events but we would rather see it as a few simple causes. It’s normal to do this. Without simplification we might obsess over everything and never let things go. (Hmmm, I think I wrote about this once.)

There are many events, conditions and people which are interconnected within a cause but our mind has a preference to focus on an individual occurrence as opposed to seeing how all events or factors may be linked together. There are many unseen factors which are taking place that may actually have a greater effect and matter more than what we believe is the root cause of a problem.

Incorrectly interpreting causes: Mechanical problems are a good example. Something came apart and the obvious cause was a broken bolt. Replace the bolt and the problem is remedied. But it was a series of conditions which caused the bolt to break: misuse, vibration, weight stress, not enough bolts, loose bolts in proximity, poorly manufactured bolt,,, a myriad of things that you were unaware of may have caused the obvious. So what we have is a chain of events that happened BEFORE the problem, a remedy to the CURRENT problem and then conditions that must be changed or controlled in the FUTURE to avoid the same problem.

I’m sure that if you reflect on your own life you could think of some instances where you found an obvious problem, but upon further investigation you discovered a series of events which all contributed to this obvious problem. Then while trying to remedy the problem you discovered that certain conditions or desired changes were not within your control or YOU had difficulty sticking to the necessary changes to eliminate the problem.

Fixing your life, health and relationship problems are far more intricate than replacing a broken bolt. But those problems do follow a similar chain of events. Something happened or was taking place BEFORE the problem arose and became obvious, we then attempt to remedy the CURRENT problem and common sense tells us that we should control the conditions to avoid repeated or FUTURE problems. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it doesn’t always go that smoothly. As I said, many other seen and unseen factors play a role: People, physical and mental limitations, social conditions even world conditions.

Searching for causes is beneficial in most cases (while completely irrelevant in others).  When it comes to life altering issues, understanding the cause-and-effect of a behavior will help you avoid the same behavior in the future – that’s providing that you adjust your behavior.  But if you interpret causes incorrectly you may perform incorrect behavior changes. “I sobered up and my friends and family still avoid me. I still have money problems” Drinking may not have been the only cause for these problems; it might be other behaviors which have nothing to do with drinking that are the cause of these problems.

Do the same problems keep cropping up? If so, some deeper questions need to be asked. Are you’re looking for causes in the wrong place? Maybe you’re seeing an effect or a result and thinking it’s the cause of a problem? Are you remedying the wrong problem? Are you sticking to the remedy to stave off future problems? Are you performing the correct behavior changes to remedy what YOU think is the cause of the problem? I told you, this shit gets complicated. Life problems aren’t always as easy as replacing a broken bolt. But they can be.

So what do you do? Do you just give up?  Let go and let God? You could. I believe there are a few strategies you can implement to help you better understand causes and remedy the problems.

  • Look for the obvious
  • Do what you can about the obvious
  • If it’s an important part of your life, don’t stop at the obvious – look for other factors which may have caused the obvious
  • Accept that there are factors at play which you are unaware of
  • Accept that there are factors (one’s you are aware of and unaware of), that you cannot do anything about

Accepting that there are factors and things that are out of your control doesn’t mean that you “give up.” Do what you can to control the events, causes and problems that are within your control and within your own immediate world. As more information becomes available about a problem adapt and adjust. Don’t overcomplicate the simple. It’s okay to simplify the complicated, but remember that there are always (yes, always) other factors that you are unaware of which still exist.

More dangerous than not being aware of factors is when you ignore factors on purpose, either because of denial or because they are unpleasant factors. Ignoring real factors is similar to wishful thinking. “Wishing that conditions were different will not change the conditions.” This is a valuable lesson that I learned through my military service. I may “wish” I wasn’t where I was at that moment, but the reality is that there are bad people out there (in the desert, jungle, skies, on the seas), that want to kill me. Wishful thinking and ignoring reality is very dangerous in this situation. Acceptance of reality is necessary for survival. If you just “wish” and ignore reality you may create bigger problems for yourself.

I feel that holding onto hope is far different than wishful thinking. With hope, you actively do something with the desire for a positive outcome. Hope gives you a reason to try.

What does this all have to do with sobriety? Being a drunk is only one factor in the chain of cause-and-effect.

Certain cause-and-effect problems are obvious and undeniable, such as: You were arrested for drunk driving because for fact you were driving a vehicle while you had a BAC level higher than allowed by law. If you wouldn’t have been drinking before driving you wouldn’t have been arrested for it – a simple answer to cause-and-effect. A simple remedy to the problem is: Don’t drink and drive – then you can’t be arrested for it.

But now comes the complicated part: Why were you driving after drinking? (I’m sure that you’re aware that it’s illegal to drive drunk.) Did anyone tell you not to drive but you ignored them? Why were you drinking? Why did you drink to excess? What other problems will arise because of this drunk driving arrest? What other problems may arise or persist if you continue to drink recklessly?

This is when you might say, “Well, if I quit drinking then all of my problems will go away.” Uhmmm, not so fast. Yes, certain obvious problems will be avoided or go away. Eliminating destructive drinking from your life is the act of YOU taking control of a cause that is adversely affecting your immediate world. But other problems will still exist and new sober problems will develop. However, your chances are far better of handling problems with a sober mind than with a drunken mind.

Let me wrap this up…. What we see as obvious is always surrounded by unseen (yes, always), and sometimes the unseen plays a greater role than what is obvious. Do your best to see as many of the causes as you can that surround a given problem. Don’t overcomplicate. Accept that there will be causes that can’t be answered (often because they are unseen). When you can’t find tangible causes, go ahead, “Let go and let gravity” or “Let go and let God” if you prefer. But at least try to make things better – trying builds hope – and hope gives you a reason to try.