My guest this week is Laura McKowen, author of the memoir, We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life. This was great discussion not just about the pervasiveness of alcohol in our culture and the challenge of leaving behind alcohol addiction, but about the urge we all have to escape in some way.
As someone who gave up alcohol myself about three years ago, I can say from experience that a sober life has many advantages, even if you don’t consider yourself a “problem drinker.” Just keep in mind as Laura mentioned that it’s very dangerous to stop alcohol cold turkey if you’re a heavy drinker. Always work with your doctor on a safe plan for quitting alcohol.
Some of the topics Laura and I touched on included:
- The struggle all of us have with something, whether alcohol or something else
- My own decision to stop drinking alcohol
- What led my guest to stop drinking
- The problem with waiting until the point in time when we’ll be “100% ready” to make a big life change
- The many ways we seek escape from discomfort, whether through substances or something else
- Why we try so hard not to be with ourselves and with each other
- The “Big Energy” Laura felt in herself from a young age
- The fear we have of the power within us
- The lie that alcohol brings us closer to our true experience
- The pervasiveness of alcohol in our culture
- The 85% increase in alcohol-related deaths among women from 1999 to 2017 (here’s the study; the rates continued to be higher for men than women, and men showed about a 40% increase)
- The massive industry that pushes alcohol into every corner of society
- The wide spectrum of alcohol use disorder
- Ways that alcohol can actually increase anxiety
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- The negative effects of alcohol on sleep
- How to deal with the fear of missing out on drinking occasions (e.g., champagne at New Year’s)
- The romanization of alcohol in our culture
- The danger of quitting alcohol cold turkey if you’re a heavy drinker
- The benefits of giving up alcohol on a trial basis
- The right questions to ask ourselves when we’re thinking about our relationship with alcohol
- The freedom we can find when we leave behind our addictions
- The necessity of honesty
- How to connect to the truth within and around us
- Being with ourselves in solitude
- Treating major life changes like you’re saving your life
Laura and I share a love of Pema Chödrön’s work; here are the titles she mentioned and one of my own favorites:
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
- Getting Unstuck
- The Pema Chödrön Audio Collection
- The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness
And here’s the book by Annie Grace that Laura loves:
Laura also mentioned this book by Cal Newport:
Laura McKowen is a former public relations executive who has become recognized as a fresh voice in the recovery movement.
Beloved for her soulful and irreverent writing, she now leads sold-out retreats and courses, teaching people how to say yes to a bigger life.
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