For a long time, we've been fed the idea that drinking is a reward for many things. Having a hard day? Pop a cold one open and relax. Got a hot date? Order some wine for an impressive meal. Facing some big nerves before a big performance or social function? A little pre-game never hurt anyone.
The problem is we aren't ever really satisfied after drinking, are we? That's probably because alcohol is a depressant—not quite the reward we're going for on long work days, romantic outings, or nerve rattling events, is it?
When I used to think about pleasure, I used to think it meant having whatever I desired. Even more accurately, I thought to have pleasure meant to have what my palette desired. The trouble is that after we “reward” our bodies with what we think it wants, we are left dissatisfied and the trickery of pleasure deceives us again. That’s why it’s so important to learn what we truly need when our bodies tell us it wants a drink.
Here are three things more rewarding than a drink, no matter what you think your body is saying:
1. Being Outdoors
Being in nature literally heals our bodies. Whether it’s listening to the rain, watching trees blow in the wind or walking barefoot, we are made to be in contact with Earth and all its beauty. The next time you’re craving pleasure from a drink, pause and find beauty in outdoor scenes around you, or even in pictures. Notice how your body feels—is it calm, peaceful, still? Unlike alcohol, nature actually grounds us and satisfies our body’s craving to be connected to the world around us.
2. Bonding with a Furry Friend
Sometimes we want a drink because we are lonely. Even around our fellow humans, we can often feel like we don’t belong. That’s why I highly recommend connecting with animals. Domesticated pets make great companions and can bring great relief to an alcohol craving. If you don’t have your own pet, volunteer at a shelter or pick up hours as a pet sitter.
3. Getting Creative
Want to know something really crazy? Colors and sounds emit energy. I didn’t believe it at first, either. Then, I began to take notice of how I felt when looking at certain paintings or photos and listening to certain types of music. Art and music communicates to our minds and bodies in ways we may not understand. But next time you want some source of pleasure, find a color to focus on—be it on a painting, a plant, a sunset, the sky. Pay attention to your body and how it responds to colors, imagery and music, then create your own masterpieces.