Monday, 29 June 2015

Borrowing Tomorrow's Happiness

Day 120.

I read a great expression yesterday which has lodged itself in my brain:

Drinking today will be borrowing tomorrow's happiness.

It struck me that that's what I've been doing for decades!

In the early days I would be trading massive fun on a night out for a minor headache the following day. But in the latter years it was a case of minor enjoyment the night before and a massive downer the following day (or days).

There is a physiological reason for this trade off too. Drinking alcohol releases dopamine in the brain which gives us a high, but the following day(s) we have a corresponding dopamine 'crash' which makes us feel miserable.

And over time, the brain is so used to being flooded with dopamine that it adjusts the level it produces naturally, meaning that there is less happiness in the bank to borrow from.

This then got me thinking that I have, in effect, borrowed all my future booze ration and drunk it already.

Perhaps you have a set amount in your lifetime that your brain can cope with and, given that I drank about 4 times what I should have for the last twenty years, I've used it all up. Nothing left in the booze bank.

Funnily enough, that thought makes me feel a bit better. At least it seems fair.

It's like Halloween - my kids favourite day after Christmas and birthdays. They go off trick or treating and come back with cauldrons brimming over with sweets and chocolate.

Now #1 and #3 are born hoarders. They are like their father. They squirrel away their loot and bring it out gradually over the course of about 3 months! That is not normal behaviour, surely?

#2, however, is like his Mummy. His cauldron is empty in about 3 hours, and I have to scrape him off the ceiling. Then, for months he has his sisters taunting him with their saved stash.

He understands, though, that it's his choice. He decided to over-indulge massively, and now he has to pay the price.

Well, that's me. And is it such a bad situation to be in?

Look at the alternative. I could confiscate #2's sweets and hand them out to him at 'moderate', 'sensible' levels over a number of weeks. But it would miserable for both of us!

#2 would never be happy with the amount he had. He would know there was more in the house somewhere and would obsess about it. We would have constant battles and arguments. He is happier, and I am happier, knowing that it's all gone.

There's another benefit to the 'all or nothing' approach to life.

Jason Vale points out that if you drink every two or three days (even moderately), then there is never a point when you do not either have alcohol in your system or are withdrawing from having had alcohol in your system.

You are never totally 'clean' and, therefore, never get the full benefits of being sober - physically or mentally.

With my all or nothing model, I got decades of going crazy (which, let's be honest, was a lot of fun in the beginning), and now I get the new benefit of being totally 'clean and serene'.

If I'd paced my lifetime supply out more 'sensibly' maybe I'd have got neither the wild days nor the serene ones.

And one thing I do know for sure is that drinking again now would be not just borrowing tomorrow's happiness, but a lifetime's.

Happy Monday!

Love SM x


  1. Thanks for that SM, I love that idea - I just spent my allowance, and I enjoyed it at the time. I'll try to hold on to that next time I am having a sober pity party.

  2. This! Borrowing tomorrow's happiness. Brilliant.

  3. I agree, 100 percent.
    I would be messing up the rest of my short lifetime!!

  4. I love this post! You're right, makes the whole thing feel less 'unfair' :-)

  5. Stunning post! The dopamine crash the next day (borrowing from tomorrow's happiness) and also Jason Vale's point about never being 'totally clean' when drinking every 2 or 3 days - really resonates with me!
    I also love your comparisons with your children's approaches to sweets.
    Such a helpful post.

    SM, I've been reading your blog every day since about your day 6. I am working my mental attitude towards a totally Dry July starting tomorrow. I shall keep reading for inspiration! Thank you.

    1. Hi Suzie, and thanks so much for reading! I've heard a lot about Dry July from my Aussie readers - it sounds like a great initiative. We have Ocsober here which I think only started last year. GOOD LUCK with it, and do read Jason Vale before you start (if you haven't already). Stay in touch! x

    2. Thanks, SM. I'm actually a Brit living in overseas Europe but Dry July has such a nice ring to it! I did read Jason's book a couple of years ago but I'll dig it out again tonight. I've also joined the July thread on Soberistas so I'm well-armed! x

  6. This is soooo clever. Best of both worlds. How lucky am I?