RADiculous 31DaysImage by Brian G Wilson, used under its Creative Commons license.

How temporary sobriety changed my life: A personal reflection on what it takes to beat any addiction and build new habits.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be completely drug free? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not sure what it feels like. For as long as I can remember, there has been some kind of drug in my system. These “drugs” aren’t necessarily bad when used in moderation, but they do alter the way we experience the world around us. I think it’s a good thing to be aware of the filters we put around our senses, even if we choose to keep them on.

That’s why I’ve decided that for the entire month of January, I will be completely drug free. Specifically, I won’t be taking in any caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, THC, or OTC medicines of any kind. If you cringed at the thought of at least one of these, then you know how serious taking up a challenge like this is. Almost everyone I know regularly uses at least one of the things in this list.

I’m not sure what I will feel like, how I will manage my emotions or what type of change in my energy level/appetite to expect. That is exactly why I’ve designed this experiment, and I’d like to invite you to follow along as I try to share my thoughts on the subject, along with the changes I see in myself every day for the month of January.

To avoid coming off as arrogant or condescending, I picked something I personally struggle with in order to live my message as I try to explain it. Throughout this project, you’ll find I use drugs as a metaphor for the things we think we can’t do without.

This is 100% authentic and as real as I know how to be. I wrote/did this for many reasons, one of them was to inspire anyone trying to build a new habit or kick an old one. This is my story…


Day1: New Year’s Resolutions

2011 31Days

Image by Marlonjuettner, used under its Creative Commons license.

I woke up late with a mild hangover, drank a liter of water and went back to sleep. It’s good to indulge once in a while. After all, it was a holiday and I knew it would be my last blurry night for at least 4 weeks.

I mentioned to one of my friends last night that I wouldn’t be drugging myself at all for the month of January and everyone immediately chimed in with their own goals and resolutions. I was glad to hear their approval but I’m afraid it came from a slight misunderstanding. I’d like to be very clear on this one; this is not a New Year’s resolution. This is a 31 day exercise, and the only reason I’m starting this experiment now is because I came up with the idea on Dec 27th, and the first of the year seemed like a convenient time to start.

Of course I didn’t point that out to my friends because I’m not a dick (usually), and I’m not necessarily opposed to the practice. I happen to have a good friend who is still living his 2009 resolution so there are times when it can help you make a change for the better.

The trouble with the tradition of waiting until next year to make a dramatic change is that when you finally wake up in January, reality replaces the romantic goal.

Rather than giant pre-planned drastic changes, I’d like to suggest cultivating the habit of taking countless tiny actions that drag us in the direction we know we want to go, but can’t yet. Life is not about movie moments. Sorry. Our culture tries so hard to say otherwise. But rarely do we get that inspirational glorious moment with perfect background music. Trying to wring one out of a normal day-in-the-life is a recipe for disappointment. Life is more like a 15 second montage stretched out over untraceably long periods. I know that’s not very poetic, but it is a powerful idea, and it’s one I’ll be expanding on in the coming weeks.

 


 

Day2: Determination

Radiculous Day 2: Determination
Image by The Ron Sombilon Gallery, used under its Creative Commons license.

I have a slight caffeine headache. I’d like an Asprin, but those are off limits, so I’m drinking a TON of water. It doesn’t help. It looks like not having any coffee is going to be a bigger deal than not partaking in adult recreation.

I decided to run this little test on myself, write down my thoughts, and then share the whole thing with whoever wants to read it for a few reasons. I like the idea of letting all the toxins flush out of my system, I figured I could put together a good little series of rants on the subject of managing habits, and I knew that by creating “31Days” I would be more motivated to go through with it.

I still might not make it, if I get sick I may have to take some medicine, I may slip in a moment of weakness, or I may “need” coffee on some morning when I’m just too tired. But I’m pretty determined to make this work, and I think that alone should take me pretty far.

Being unusually determined is like having a superpower. Raw determination is the precursor for skill, luck, power, and all of the other things people usually associate with success. Without it, we wouldn’t have human rights, general relativity, or the Internet.

Never underestimate what can be done with a little determination.

 


Day3: Pain

Radiculous Day 3: Pain
Image by Torsten Mangner, used under its Creative Commons license.

This is the 3rd day of my little exercise now and it’s nothing like I expected. Not having any coffee in the morning makes me completely lethargic. I’ve taken naps all 3 days and feel a little sleepy pretty much all the time. I see it as a good thing, since I am expecting insomnia after my caffeine withdraw symptoms go away.

Yesterday, I sat with 2 friends while they drank a 6 pack. I drank water, and after the awkward “Oh, I’m not drinking this month” and a few smart-ass comments it was the same as it was a hundred times before. So being around people who are drinking doesn’t seem to be that much of a challenge (for me).

I went snowboarding today, and ate shit HARD. I think it had a lot to do with me not being very alert, I must have a stronger coffee habit than I thought. I’m feeling it in my shoulder, and tomorrow is my first day back to work with no coffee and plenty of the stiffness.

Normally I would probably take an Advil with the way my shoulder feels right now, but this month is about willpower, not comfort.

It makes me think of how quick we are to try and “fix” the pain in our lives. Whether emotional or physical, we are lucky enough to have the option of taking a drug for either. This can be a good thing, but pain is part of life. Without it pleasure is expected instead of appreciated. The type of pain I feel now is just a reminder not to fly down black runs with deep moguls. It is like life punching me in the arm for getting too crazy and not paying attention.

Okay, so pain is the subject for today but actually I had a great day, the feeling of freedom and power I get from floating down a mountain in the snow is second to none. I saw some great sights, talked to some cool people, and experienced a sensation some people will never know. Perfect ending to my 3 day weekend.

 


 

Day4: Luck

Radiculous Day 4: Luck
Image by {Ziggy}.

Monday. Yay.

Not having caffeine is still kicking my ass, and I heard a couple times that I looked tired. Other than that, it was just another day at the office. I’m sore from yesterday, so I was actually glad to be sitting at a desk for once.

Apparently there’s a record lotto drawing tonight for Mega Millions. Have you ever googled “things more likely than winning the lottery”? Hilarious.

I do like seeing the glow of hope when people talk about what they’d do if they won, so I try not to bring up the reality of the odds that lottery players are actually up against. And I can’t deny that, yes, there is a chance. Technically, there’s also a chance I’ll find the winning ticket in the street tomorrow.

It’s intoxicating to put in for a chance at millions, I get it. I’m just not buying it. We’re all orders of magnitude likelier to start a million dollar business than to win the big Powerball.

Unfortunately, it does make me feel a bit left out when I realize I’m the only one in the room thinking this way. It’s alright though, I am happy today without being a “Mega Millionaire.”

If you live in poverty money will make you happier, but beyond that it does very little. Especially if you haven’t refined yourself enough to use it wisely.

It’s funny how we’re so quick to bet on terrible odds for a huge lump of money, but we seem to choose not to bet on ourselves for much else. Luck is nice, slow determination paired with competence is better.

 


 

Day5: The Deceptive First Choice

Radiculous Day 5: The Deceptive First Choice
Image by Julia Manzerova.

My constant, dull aching head is starting to drag me down a bit. If you ever quit drinking coffee, I would NOT recommend depriving yourself of precious ibuprofen too like I have. Other than that today was easy.

It seems the physical addictions are kicking the mental habits’ ass, and it makes me glad my drug of choice doesn’t come with any real physical withdrawal symptoms. For some reason, each day I feel a bit better about this little challenge I invented for myself.

I’m slowly getting better at not underestimating the power of small changes. As I break one set of habits, I start to see all these other areas that I chose to do things a certain way one time and that was all it took to turn it in to a part of me.

Choices are funny like that. I’ve always known it, but I like it when I get fresh new examples from my own life to back up the concept. How many things do you do every week out of an obligation to the ritual? People start noticing these and assume that’s how you will continue to be. Then the outside world starts reinforcing them without you doing anything and pretty soon BAM! Welcome to “how you’re supposed to be”.

The decision to change can be a hard one, because you’ve already solidified choosing a certain way. Over time it gets harder and harder to separate the choice from who you are.

It seems like we make initial decisions based on something small or nothing at all. Then to change later on it usually takes something big. It’s in our nature to repeat behaviors until we have a solid reason to behave differently, especially when there is social pressure to be consistent.

From my experience, I’ve found that remaking small arbitrary choices as simple as “I’m gonna read a book” or “No beer tonight” can set off momentum toward huge life-altering polarity shifts.

 


 

Day6: Untitled

Radiculous Day 6: Untitled
Image by Darrren Hester.

Today was my first day going out to the bar without drinking. It went really well, I thought it was funny how certain people felt more comfortable mocking me the more trashed they got. Offering me shots was the joke of the night, but since I had my wits about me it wasn’t a big deal at all and I actually had a pretty good time.

It was finals for our pool league, we made it to the last game and blew it. I played pretty good against the best player on the opposing team and lost, but not badly. I tend to feel good about the match when I play well, regardless if I win or not.

Its 1am right now and we’re going up to the mountains early tomorrow morning, so there will be no thoughtful message tonight. I do feel great about my decision and how things are going though, and I’m stoked to take this new approach further in the coming weeks. Good night.

 


 

Day7: The “Fixer”

Radiculous Day 7: The Fixer
Image by Bottled Void.

Today was awesome. I went up snowboarding with 2 friends and I think they would both tell you the same thing. My headache seems to be getting lighter, or maybe I’m just getting used to it. Either way, the transition shock of what I’m now in the middle of is easing.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve been almost constantly around alcohol, cigarettes, and weed. I’ve been directly offered drinks like 20 times and passed a joint from one person to another without partaking. My friends have collectively dismantled any purpose I had in taking this little test, and I can’t even give a good reason on paper why I put myself through this kind of discomfort.

Yet in all that, I feel a great sense of clarity and control. I am happy to say “thanks, but no thanks” to good hearted offers of buying me a beer after a long, active day. I don’t feel the kind of anxiety I thought I’d meet up against, if anything I feel more confident in all the situations I’ve found myself in so far.

One thing I’ve noticed is the way we (I say “we” because I’m no exception.) lean heavily on our particular fixers in some interesting situations. When we are uncomfortable, angry, frustrated, stressed, or depressed there’s an irresistible urge to take another drink/bite/hit/drag/whatever. Whether it’s a good idea or not, we reach for things to change our state.

When I don’t have anything to reach for, I’m left with only myself. I meet myself wherever I’m at in a moment, and I manage it with what I’m equipped with. We don’t actually need these things we’re reaching for to “fix” anything. Having them at hand gives us an easy way to shift responsibility. It doesn’t have to be a drug; it could also be food, a person, or a place. Intentionally placing the fixers out of reach forces us to meet ourselves in a way that just doesn’t happen when they’re available.

What’s your fixer? Can you remember a time when you had to go without it? If not, I highly recommend creating that kind of situation for yourself.

 


 

Day8: I Don’t Wanna

Radiculous Day 8: I Don't Wanna
Image by Citril.

Today was an interesting day. I had a slow morning, and in the evening I went to the yearly work Christmas party. Yeah it was a bit late, but it gets crazy around the end of the year at my job so we usually wait until January. I had reserves about going at all (ever seen “The Office” Christmas party?) and there was a party at one of my coworkers’ house afterward that I wasn’t really into the idea of either.

The dinner came and went as expected, and I had a better time than I thought I would, this was the first time most of the people from work learned that I wasn’t drinking since it was double-take-worthy to see me sipping water on a free tab. Everyone was supportive in a kind of confused way.

I considered just going home afterward since I’m on call right now which usually means a week of no fun, but I went anyway because I’d already said I would. I ended up having a great time and I got to jam with a guy from work I didn’t even know was in a band. After going home I noticed that being out was the only time I smiled all day, which I’ve heard makes you feel better subconsciously even if it’s fake as hell.

So now I’m thinking about doing things we don’t want to, and I’ve noticed that in my life there are 2 distinctly different reasons I do them: For what I think needs done, and what others think needs done.

Everyone has to do things they don’t want to, its part of life. But I think there is a pressure sometimes exploiting that fact to get you to do something you don’t want to do for someone else. Doing things you don’t want to can be a habit too, and its easy to stop looking at things from a “why am I making myself do this?” perspective.

If you find yourself doing something you don’t want to, consider for a minute why you are doing it. Is it your idea? Will it directly help you or make you happier? If yes, do it. But I think a lot of times it may be for other reasons. If it’s for work, friends or family consider not doing it. What will happen? If you don’t do it this time, maybe the expectation will disappear and you won’t need to ever do it again. (Remember day 5?)

If you find that is the case, fight against the habit. Meet up with the demand boldly: “Maybe not, and how about no?” I’m not advocating laziness or selfishness, I’m encouraging you to make conscious decisions on what you’re doing with yourself and your time.

 


 

Day9: Passivity

Radiculous Day 9: Passivity
Image by Julianrod.

Cold, uneventful, but not without significance. I’ve lived another day. One more of maybe 28 thousand if I’m lucky. I’m holding firmly to my goal, and I enjoyed being lazy but alert today, it really is a nice change of pace from just ‘turning off’.

I thought it was more like day ten or eleven until I sat down to write this. It is pretty late, and I’m in a weird mood from just sitting around reading all day.

One thing I’ve noticed in sobriety is that I don’t really have any patience for passive entertainment. I need interaction with the things I occupy my time with, even if it’s just looking up a thing or two that cross my mind that I want to learn more about between chapters.

TV is definitely out, if only for the stupidass marketing forced into every cliff-hanging break. I know it’s just business, but I can’t help but feel disgust at the insensitive exploitation of all that is sacred to us: The dish soap ad trying to harness a mother’s love for her children, or the Viagra commercial trying to tie itself to an aging man’s fond memories of his generation. And we see between 250 and 3,000 of these ads a day in one form or another.

I can hear you now. “Who cares.” You’re probably right, choosing to not watch TV gets me closer to what really matters, but at the same time it takes me further away from the connections I have with the people around me: “Huh? What? No, I haven’t seen that show/commercial/movie trailer… Sorry.”

It’s weird to find myself looking forward not to intoxication, but to the mindset that comes with it. There’s a real appeal to just being passive and dumb and just being part of the big mess that I like to criticize when I’m being too serious and thinking too much.

Not very inspirational, I know. But… meh. This is about being real, not filling pages with bullshit.


 

Day10: Gratitude

Radiculous Day 10: Gratitude
Image by respres.

I’ve been feeling ridiculously inspired today. Little things that I normally don’t even notice are making me shudder with humility and awe. On my drive to work, I felt amazed to have the privilege of owning a big-ass shiny machine that took me past giant stadiums and theaters built for my entertainment. Not too hot and not too cold, I drove across a vast raised road system which had been diligently plowed before I even woke up.

On the radio, they were trying to get people to sponsor kids in Haiti. Normally it’s just annoying to me, but today I felt a real tinge of sadness for the thousands of people who are literally living in tents just feet apart from each other. 80% of these poor people are unemployed. We talk about our 10% like the sky is falling.

Later I read a short quote about travel and how it forces you to be attentive to a self that lies low and unnoticed at home. I think sometimes it’s a good idea to take that same attitude into our normal lives. Living your everyday life as if you were a tourist makes everything interesting. While you obviously can’t keep that perspective every day, it really is motivating. And I’ll have chances to travel soon enough.

My roommate commented that I “haven’t been acting any different” this month. I laughed, thinking about how much has been going on inside unnoticed. I also noticed that I haven’t had a headache for a few days. I’ll be counting this as a good day even though Mondays don’t usually belong in that category.

 


 

Day11: Unjustified Fear

Radiculous Day 11: Unjustified fear
Image by Meredith Farmer.

Another good day, aside from the whole working it all away part… I sold most of my time today, but I think it was a good deal. I mean, I got a good rate per hour and all.

Other than that, I had no issues keeping the contract I’ve made with myself. Actually, at this point it really isn’t much of a challenge. I’m kind of disappointed how quickly it became normal. I thought It’d be harder from day to day, but really it all comes down to a couple infrequent urges. If I can beat those, the majority of the day is just regular old life.

They opened the Ruby Hill Railyard yesterday so I hit that up for a couple hours after work. Pure awesome. If you aren’t in the know let me catch you up: Winter Park Resort in Colorado puts a million gallons of water’s worth of snow in a park built on a hill in Denver. Then they put up rails and have volunteers raking and maintaining them for a couple months until the snow melts. 100% Free. If you are ever in the area around this time of year check it out if even just to watch.

I noticed that the discomfort I had last year going up there is gone completely. You’re being watched when it’s your turn, and there’s something intimidating about dropping in after watching some of the best snowboarders in the city hitting the same rail right before you.

The fear and timidness that comes from not knowing how people will react to me is something I’m scared of.

There, I said it.

It’s one of my “unjustified fears”. The kind of thing that makes a person genuinely afraid, but they know deep down its the kind of thing others would chuckle about.

I don’t see myself as alone in having unjustified fear. I see plenty of people scared of getting on a ladder because of “heights” or scared of an elevator because of “tight spaces”. I think these are exactly the types of things we should constantly push ourselves toward. Like anything, it becomes a habit. I don’t think it ever starts to feel good but the more of these things we keep in check, the better off we are.

A big part of building a good life is about taking advantage of possibilities. If you’re in the habit of putting your fears in check, when they do come up you’ll be more likely to look at it with a clear head. Our culture teaches fear, politicians use it as a tool and the media nourishes it. Despite that I’ve found more than half the time, being scared and doing it anyway is the best choice.

 


 

Day12: We Can Do Better

Radiculous Day 12: Do Better
Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow -Image by Sweet One.

I read this today and WOW. This guy gets it. I thought it was funny how similar the tone was to what I wrote on day 10, only he’s clearly much better at being grateful (and writing) than I am.

I kept thinking of how he approached the subjects of work and TV. I have the habit of bashing both, and reading that inspired post made me feel a bit ungrateful. I finally decided that my anger toward both isn’t because either is really that bad; it’s because I’m frustrated with how good things could be.

Sure, there really is no justification for bitching about having to show up to a “good job”, and the marvel of TV is truly a wonder when looked at outside the frame of exploitation and manipulation that I like to put around it. But I repeatedly find myself going back to the fact that it could be better.

We can do better, and I can’t shake the constant feeling that I need to do more to prove it. That is a big part of what this little series of writings is about. More than addiction or will-power, this is about trying to do better.

I want to wake up and feel the pressure to do better, not to follow rules. Lets try to DO more, not HAVE more. Fuck the expectations. Forget what you’ve been told to want. Ignore the friendly faces promising you an easy way toward [fill in the blank] and start investing yourself in something.

I’m about to give away my secret here, because I don’t hear anyone else saying it. So let me finish by telling you the most important thing you’ve never heard: Personal investment is worth far more than monetary investment.

 


 

Day13: Doubt

Radiculous Day 13: Doubt
Image by cruzinbye.

My job can get hectic sometimes, and this morning was one of those times. Usually this is no problem, but when there are too many fires and not enough firemen it starts to feel a bit like my house is on fire. The reason I bring this up is I noticed after calming down a bit that I handled the stress way less gracefully than I’m normally able to.

There’s definitely an adjustment phase that comes after cutting off my standard break from life and living without the “off switch”.

To dial things down after work I went out to the Rail Yard for a little session. It had about the same affect on my mood that smoking or having a beer after a long day would, and obviously it was a better alternative for other reasons too.

I won’t lie, today was tough. But I know that’s when it counts the most and after I dropped the idea the craving went away pretty quick.

Another thing that makes this a unique situation is that there’s weed in the house and beer in the fridge. No one will be drug testing me, and no one even told me to stop. Yet here I am, 13 days without a drop of alcohol or a puff of any kind of smoke. Not a single pill or milligram of caffeine.

Doubt is one thing that anyone is sure to come across when they’re trying to do something uncommon or difficult for their own sake. Even though it’s inevitable, doubt has no place in day 13 of 31.

There is a time for everything, and the time for doubt is before an undertaking, not past the point of no return. At that point doubt is just a driving force. Feel free to steal that idea and apply it to your own life.

 


 

Day14: Integrity

Radiculous Day 14: Integrity
Image by saturn ♄.

Two weeks in now, and heading into my third straight-edge weekend I feel pretty good. Looking back at yesterday’s post makes me feel good about myself, knowing I stuck with it through the first real test I’ve had where I actually struggled a bit.

I feel SO much better today looking at things than I would’ve if I’d allowed myself to slip. I feel like the reward for the restraint was a million times bigger than the reward for indulging in weakness could have been. Not because it actually matters whether I got baked one time or not, but because I’m actually doing what I said I’d do. I know it sounds dumb but it makes me feel like I have integrity, the more I do things like this the more I feel better about the world in general.

A lot of times integrity gets described in terms of what it looks like: People with integrity do what they say they will do -or- People with integrity keep their word. Usually when you hear this it’s when people are trying to get you to do something they think is important after putting words into your mouth. I think those qualities are true, but they don’t paint the entire picture.

Integrity comes from the word integration. It means making every little piece of your personality an integral part of how you act. It is about integrating the things that you believe with the things you do with yourself; taking daily choices and conversations as opportunities to fuse them with the things you’ve decided to make a part of who you are.

As I’ve started to think more and more about my priorities, I see a lot of places where I don’t have the integrity I’d like to see in myself. How are you gonna bitch about Walmart when your house is full of plastic crap from there? What does it even mean to bash the market system when you just went to the supermarket or bought the latest gadget? For me, asking these types of questions is changing the way I see the world.

It seems like living with integrity isn’t really so much about sticking to your guns no matter what. In practice, it actually looks like flexibility and a willingness to change long-held beliefs and habits for the sake of a new (better) idea.

 


 

Day15: Sacrifice

Radiculous Day 15: Sacrifice
Image by Snapping Kurtle.

The long week of being on call came to and end today. There’s plenty of work involved, but by far the hardest part is dealing with the fatigue that comes from being woken up in the middle of the night and not having a single moment to feel like “ahh, my work is done for the day.” Today I got that moment for the first time in 7 days.

Usually I celebrate with at least a shot. And when my last hour was up, I was sitting at my house watching others drink beer and talk about the game that just ended. I toasted with water. Times like those really nail it home how uncommon doing something like this is, at least in my circle. It’s a challenge to want something, and be offered that something, and to say no. It makes it even harder when the people around you don’t quite get it.

This all started out with me making up one little rule to learn more about myself, and the consequences turned out to be huge. Way bigger than the idea was before I tried it. When you decide you want something, there are usually sacrifices that you’re going to have to make, and its impossible to see them all ahead of time. At some point it is going to come down to “How much are you willing to sacrifice?”

When trying to do something awesomley different it is sacrifice, not skill, that separates the people worth their salt from the talkers.

When I hear “I could never…” in casual conversation I translate it to “I really don’t want that badly enough.” If a person truly wants something, they’ll give it all away and then some for it.

This month is like training wheels for the push it takes to just go for something. Anytime I feel the pressure putting the squeeze on me to slip I just accept the sacrifice, and it’s not an option anymore. I’m glad to be doing it, I’m proud of my success so far, but it really makes me feel like shit sometimes too. That’s just one of the sacrifices I unknowingly committed to.

 


 

Day16: False Borders

Radiculous Day 16: False Borders

Today I went with my roommate to race our vehicles on an ice course built over a frozen lake.

Yeah, you read that right.

In Georgetown, CO there is a group called “Our Gang” that organizes the event every year. They put cones up and you literally drive out on the ice and slide around a course. I lost my first race and was eliminated, but we still got to race each other on the 3 courses after it was all over and I was super stoked to get to take part anyway.

I want to point out that we knew nothing about this going into it. Neither of us knew anyone who had tried it, but thanks to the beautiful web of information we’re all connected to, a few quick searches told us all we needed to know: where, when, and how much. The requirements amounted to having a street legal, mechanically sound 4WD vehicle and twenty five bucks. I was in.

Although I know a lot of people who meet those requirements and would like to “try something like that sometime”, I feel bad that they could but probably wont. I thought about why we do this, and I think the issue comes from creating false borders.

I think a few years ago, I might have put a false border around this one. I would’ve attached a curious weight to the $25 cost for the tech inspection and entry fee. $25 would turn into $50 somehow for “gas”, and I would’ve said no. Later, I would find myself disappointed with the decision looking back at it.

I also see this “false border phenomenon” when I remember opting out of things because I was nervous about not knowing anyone or being judged. Neither of those stopped me today, and I feel much better than I would’ve if I hadn’t done this. It was awesome!

So take some time to think about your own false borders. Unless you are a true adventuring radass, I bet you can think of one or two. Personally, I found one and created this website/project in an effort to tear down some longstanding walls. How are you going to dissolve your imagined boundaries?

 


 

Day17: The Challenge Of Clarity

Radiculous Day 17: Clarity
Image by Matthew Stewart.

Today was a struggle. Most of the time just going with the flow is enough to keep things nicely in place. Not today. Today was a fight from start to finish, and a test of my patience and will for sure.

I feel better having conquered my Shit Monday, but mentally fatigued at the same time. So there’s my little daily summary, and enough of all that.

On a more positive note, I noticed that some of the things I was worried about going into this haven’t been a problem at all.

I haven’t had a loss of appetite. I haven’t had any problems with insomnia. I haven’t had any problems with calming myself down, though I do seem to have a shorter fuse. All of the things I’ve run across that have made this month difficult are things I had no foresight into beforehand.

In the same way, I haven’t seen the big shift into sobriety I expected either. Things aren’t really that much clearer than they were before.I thought there would be kind of an “ah ha!” moment, I’d be “clean” of toxins and things would get… I don’t know, brighter I guess.

That didn’t happen, my moods are pretty much the same. My outlook is pretty much the same. I am a bit sharper, but the big difference is how I fill my free time. What I’m getting out of this isn’t some big shiny moment of clarity, instead it’s more like meeting a new side of myself.

I question myself constantly on this dumb idea I’m working so hard on. Even though the struggle is a small part of it, there’s been more than a few times I’ve considered just forgetting it and stopping the whole thing. Yesterday after the race we went for pizza, and the beer my buddy drank looked sooooo good. Just one beer. But right after times like that I remember why I’m writing this; why I started putting value in different things and shifting around my priorities.

I’m doing/sharing this to see how it works; to see what it takes. Quitting something because of no access, no money, or pregnancy is different. I have absolutely no external reason motivating me to do this. This is about picking SOMETHING and just going for it for a deeper reason than because of peer pressure, laws, recommendations, or profit.

I see people playing it safe, and I see people wasting it all away for no reason. What I don’t see are people doing the unexpected for a personal reason. I want to hear about people leaving their families for a philosophical quest across Australia, or moving to Japan just to see if they can make it, or selling T-shirts to raise money for a spaceship they’re building in their garage. Instead what I see (even in myself) is a combination of either doing things “the right way” or giving up and doing nothing at all. I’m not saying that there aren’t any people like the ones mentioned, I’m just saying that I haven’t met them.

Well I’m sick of it, and I’m not accepting it anymore. Bring on the RADiculous.

 


 

Day18: Gradual Change is Our Revolution

Radiculous Day 18: Gradual Change
Image by Barry Yanowitz.

Change is a funny thing. We all know about quick change, the kind that comes from a phone call or a car crash. The kind of change that comes in an explosion caused by months or years of building pressure. But there is another, more subtle kind of change.

This elusive type of change catches us off guard. This change bubbles up in the form of regret or surprise. The kind of shift you can’t trace back to a single starting point; like waking up one day to find yourself fat, or bald, or old. I’m interested in that specific type of change and this month I’m not only exploring it, but trying to put it into words which is a totally new experience.

I’ve heard we tend to overestimate the kinds of change we can make in a short period, and we underestimate the change that comes about over long periods of time. I think this is because we don’t measure the gradual changes, and we obsess over trying to micromanage small chunks divided into days or weeks. Usually this makes sense; our schedules are built around short cycles for a good reason.

But what if we consciously try to shift our planning into these bigger inevitable changes? What would it look like? I think one great way to measure these is to monitor the smaller results and tie them to the bigger picture.

Health experts know this, and you’ve probably heard that slow consistent weight loss is more healthy than crash dieting. That example is a great illustration of just how bad we are at these small changes. Our “quick-fix” mentality buries the small changes underneath systems to get results faster even though we know deep down that the gradual change is more effective long-term.

Life today is fast and competitive. We have people competing for our attention, for our money, and for our time. It’s really easy to lose direction and build the habit of running around aimlessly, reacting instead of acting. I think that the only way to avoid it besides locking yourself away from the world (something I’ve done, and don’t recommend) is to constantly reinforce your direction.

While floating aimlessly can be nice for a short time, living life without a clear general direction ends in disaster. It can lead to a sense of no control and a feeling of hopelessness.

Luckily, there is hope. But our hope shouldn’t rely on instantaneous salvation or winning the lottery. I know I’ll catch hell for that statement, but I don’t care, it’s a bad idea. Never allow yourself the luxury of waiting idly with just your hope. Years can be wasted, lives can be squandered waiting in vain for something that no one can influence. Do something.

Never, ever underestimate the power of small gradual changes built up over time.

 


 

Day19: The Cold Turkey

Radiculous Day 19: Cold Turkey
Image by Ginger Me.

Today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind since I started this, and it’s central to my message on conquering any addiction permanently and creating better habits. If you’ve ever had a habit you were trying to break, you’ve probably thought of quitting it “cold turkey”. This is the tried-and-true method of beating an unbreakable habit. My aim today is to point out a serious flaw in the cold turkey approach.

disclaimer: If you have quit something cold turkey and are still staying away from it successfully, stop reading this. Really. Go do something else. This will probably insult and offend you. I didn’t write this for you, this is for all the people who’ve tried going cold turkey and found it doesn’t work for them.

The problem with the cold turkey approach is that its based in 2 emotions: Fear, and hopelessness. Let me explain.
1. Fear, because it starts with the assumption that you don’t have the will to control yourself, and
2. Hopelessness, because the Cold Turkey tells you that you can NEVER learn how to control yourself.

Do you see the problem here?

I believe in a higher power, but I certainly don’t believe that I have no power over myself. The Cold Turkey lies to you by telling you that because you can’t control nature (external), that means you can’t control yourself (internal). I humbly suggest that this is total bullshit. The only thing The Turkey can do for you is make you a victim.

Lets look at how The Turkey works his magic:

You are a smoker. You smoke 1 pack a day. You decide you are done, you’ve had enough, and this carton will be your last. (This is very common, I know a lot of people who’ve been smoking their “last pack”.) You really do want to quit, but The Turkey convinced you that it was fine to continue without resisting your urges until the carton was finished. By the time you make it to your last smoke, you’re mentally exhausted from the stress of the approaching deadline, the initial gung ho that you had has fizzled out, and you haven’t tried even ONCE to beat a single craving.

Shoot The Turkey and put it to rest. Enter The Donkey. The Donkey isn’t some chickenshit bird. He’s a stubborn ass. Let’s replay the story with him:

You are a smoker. You smoke 1 pack a day. You decide you are done, you’ve had enough, and… You decide to learn how to beat your cravings. You start by trying to not smoke in the car, this is when you really want to light up. After you arrive, you can smoke, but not in the car. You fail. You slip again and again but The Donkey keeps kicking, and a month later you’re still smoking close to a pack a day but you finally have the no-car-smoking thing on lockdown.

Then you stretch it to no smoking before 5pm. You fail. You have an argument, get stressed and slip, but The Donkey doesn’t care at all. Two months later you’re getting pretty good at resisting until the craving passes. Most weekends you still slip up, but The Donkey tells you “This isn’t quitting yet, you’re still in the learning phase.” so you keep getting better. Fast forward a few more months and you’ve tapered off your habit a bit, you smoke less than half what you used to. Now when the cravings come you know from experience that they will pass.

You’re feeling good because you’ve accomplished some little goals and you’re feeling big today, so you decide to take the plunge. 6 months of preparation and confidence boosting have gotten you ready for this, but you still have almost a full pack. After this you’re going to quit, this will be your last pack right? NO. Tear that pack up and flush it.

This does something to your brain that says “Self, you just tore up that pack. You already had your last smoke. It’s over. You’re not going to buy another, remember what you did with the last one? If you were going to have 1 more, you’d have had one of the those. They’re gone now and you got rid of them for a reason.”

I’m not just speculating here, I’ve actually done this with a very addictive substance, and it works. I also smoked cigarettes regularly for years.

Fast forward 1 year. You lose your job, get drunk, and buy a pack. You smoke 4 cigarettes that night. Off the wagon right? Here’s where The Donkey’s power comes in. You already learned the skills you needed for long term success. You fight the urges for a few months after the slip up, and you’re back on track.

The Cold Turkey never leaned how to fight cravings and win, he just ran away from his weakness.

Quitting something cold turkey can keep you clean for years, and a lot of people will tell you addiction is a disease you have for life. The Donkey doesn’t accept that, and you shouldn’t either. Self-restraint is a skill that can be learned like anything else. Once a person has this skill, they can apply it to bad habits, impulse spending, building a new life, or doing something like the project I’m in the middle of today.

If you’re putting your life in danger or repeatedly waking up naked in the gutter, then the Cold Turkey might be your only hope. Chances are, though, you don’t have a problem like that. For all the other insidious habits that are just a nuisance, or an inconvenience in certain situations, The ass-kicking Donkey can give you the tools you need for success.

 


 

Day20: Real Improvement Isn’t Profitable

Radiculous Day 20: Improvement
Image by jrodmanjr.

Two thirds of the way through the month now and I haven’t so much as bent my little rule. I went snowboarding today. The feeling of riding combined with the little bits of constant progression tend make everything else in my life just fade away.

It’s a weird feeling writing these little posts every day, a lot of times I don’t feel there’s much to write that people will want to read. But I feel really strongly that this is still important somehow.

If you’re actually still reading at this point, then I hope this has helped or at least encouraged you in some way. That is the reason I’m doing this. I really do think we can all do a lot better in life by changing just a few habits.

If it hasn’t helped anybody, or nobody cares; no worries. I feel strong enough about this to not really give a damn what the end result is. Besides, as many ideas that I have that I think are great I also believe everyone has the same things inside of them that they can tap into.

Why aren’t we getting any encouragement to make genuine improvements in our lives? I think it’s because it’s not profitable. Confident people can be a hard sell. So naturally, the “improvements” we are offered come in the form of nice vehicles, big houses, expensive degrees, and a whole range of beauty and health products. They are packaged with a healthy dose of psychology designed to make people think they will fail miserably without them. Unfortunately, that’s just good salesmanship when profit is king.

The result is that talking about free ways to improve your health and keep you feeling young almost seems like a joke to some people. To talk about the free information available you can use to educate yourself without a university seems absurd, and forget about suggesting we settle for older cars and smaller houses. Those are the “finer things in life” right?

I can’t keep myself out of this group of people, I am no exception. I was raised by a system that taught me a lot about what to want and that will take a long time to rearrange. I’m only just starting to realize that the illusion is there, let alone trying to sort my way through it to a better set of ideals.

This change will be like any great change; a slow shift toward something distinctly different. This month is one part of that great change. Moving to an unfamiliar state, reducing my possessions, and starting a quest of self-education are other parts of the same shift.

 


 

Day21: You’re Off Your Game

Radiculous Day 21
Image by h.koppdelaney.

“You’re off your game man.”

It rings in my ears. Meant as a joke, said with a chuckle in passing, I fought back the urge to passionately spew a 10 minute speech on why we should all be trying things that throw us a little off balance.

I was shaken into an almost furious state, my mind alternating between aggressive defenses and feelings of inevitable failure. I still can’t put into words the passion that I felt when I heard that phrase. The feeling underscored something I hadn’t really noticed until now; this is taking all I have.

As you can see by reading any random post I’ve written this month, my little month-long trial means a lot more than just “not doing drugs” to me. It represents a different approach to life, one that I have only heard of in stories of the best among our species.

Then I look at my everyday companions and I feel like I share this sense of wanting something more but not quite knowing how to make it happen. There seems to be a lot of arm throwing and “what can you do”ing.

I think the answer is to do something and brace yourself for the reality that you may need to be constantly revising your ideas once you start. Sitting idle is easy, it puts the people actually doing things on the other side of the fence where they can be critiqued without involving yourself.

I want to tear down that fence, I want to help give momentum to a new culture that encourages everyone to burn the rulebook and get involved for more than a salary and comfort. Comfort is only an illusion, and while it brings a euphoric sense of safety it also brings about catastrophic failures of inaction. Look at our problems with the gulf, with the climate, and with our economy. We just can’t expect to sustain comfort our whole lives.

We need an army of adaptable, independently educated super humans; Titans of change
. Blindly clinging to tradition is a serious blunder. The stories passed down to us are valuable, but we really need a more open environment that advocates the discussion of possible changes. We need it as individuals, as small communities, as nations, and we need it as a planet or God/Earth/Nature will soon tear down the fence for us.

 


 

Day22: You Are Not Safe, and That’s Okay

Radiculous Day 22
Image by Stuant63.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature… Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
- Helen Keller

I love this quote, you might have heard it before. I stumbled upon it (literally) a long time ago but I’ll always remember it for 2 reasons.

1. “It does not exist in nature

Remembering how vulnerable we are despite all our master plans and grand posturings can be a real virtue. This lack of security is one of the few things that puts everyone on the same plane. Our planet, our institutions, and our individual lives are much less secure than we’d like to think.

You won’t hear shit like that very often, but Helen gets it.

2. “Either a daring adventure, or nothing.

The huge, epic journeys that come to mind when you hear “daring adventure” are just one kind. What about the less celebrated daring adventures? It could be negotiating something completely out of the ordinary with your boss or telling your family you’re not going to do what’s expected of you.

A daring adventure is just something that goes against the convention. Spending your whole life eating garbage food, betting your life savings on a failing system, or committing to monthly payments for years to come are all risky, but these aren’t daring because they are established norms.

Words like daring and adventure only come into play when we’re talking about going against the standard models. While not all of us can go out and change the world, we can still all gain something by challenging expectations on a smaller scale. All it takes is an adventurous spirit.

 


 

Day23: Oops!

Radiculous Day 23
Image by brionv.

Oops! No post today…

 


 

Day24: Comfort is a Gift to the Wounded, and a Wound to the Gifted

Radiculous Day 24
Image by iamthemoonstar.

A Gift to the Wounded, and a Wound to the Gifted. Oh yeah, I just came up with that. Pretty slick eh?

Anyway, over the course of the month, my dreams have evolved into epic nightlong sagas. There is no way that 7 hours is enough time to experience what I did last night in my sleep, and I can’t even really describe it, but, whoa.

It was like Starship Troopers meets Mothman Prophecies. For some reason my dreams are usually phrased around the “feel” of a movie or a memory, and they get warped out from there. I’m not really going anywhere with this, but I didn’t ever really remember my dreams before so this is a new experience for me.

…So I didn’t write anything yesterday. Ended up watching the playoffs while the guys proceeded to get trashed, then later I just forgot.

No post Fail.
No drink Win!

I told myself I would write a short thought every day this month, and it’s not that hard. Why is it we fall so short of our capabilities sometimes? I think it’s easy to let your mind convince you that little things don’t matter. Like the “Just once” phenomenon, it would have been easy to keep skipping days, or to cheat and to write the post the next morning, when I realized I missed a beat. Nobody is even reading any of this yet, I could revise the whole thing next week if I wanted.

*** I did edit heavily after the month ended. I didn’t add anything, but I corrected some spelling and grammar, and removed a lot of personal stuff you wouldn’t care to read anyway.***

But I want this to be a testament to what can be done in 31 days, and what my weird mix of reflection/critical thinking looks like. This is supposed to be a snapshot, so the gap on the 23rd will stay as part of the picture. I really did write everything here during the dates I put on each post.

You can have all the potential and capabilities in the world, but it wont mean a thing if you stay too comfortable. Writing this is uncomfortable, going without any drug of any kind is uncomfortable, and publishing this where anyone can read it is SUPER uncomfortable. But I think outside of this discomforting moment, my little month-long rant/story/trial/thing will count for something more than 5 minutes of “I don’t wanna”. So I keep going.

If you’ve been suffering, then aim for comfort. Embrace it where you find it. But most of us aren’t really suffering. We make up little reasons why we suffer. It’s the spoiled white syndrome where everyone exaggerates the minutiae of their misfortune, and I think it is caused in part by a need to justify excessive comfort. In the US, most of us are rarely hungry or cold. What are we doing with that gift?

After a short recovery, comfort can become the enemy of progress. Comfort facilitates procrastination, ignorance, and stagnation. No, I’m not suggesting we randomly torture ourselves with mindless discomfort, that’s called masochism. I’m talking about frequently venturing out of the comfort zone in order to push the definition of who we are and what we’re capable of.

 


 

Day25: Cut Your Anchors

Radiculous Day 25
Image by diedm.

As I start getting closer and closer to the end of the month, it makes me think of how much I don’t want to go back to drinking most nights and smoking every night. I’ve grown into all of these new habits. I’ve been taking in so much information, and accomplishing so much from day to day by just cutting out a few of my favorite time-wasters.

I accidentally created this new world that is slowly, imperceptibly turning me into a new kind of person. I don’t connect with the same people in the ways I used to, and I’m finding connections to other people that I didn’t “get” before.

I don’t really want to go back now, I don’t think I can. I will still take some nights for adult recreation but I don’t think I can look at the whole “getting fucked up” thing the same anymore. I’m afraid I might not look at anything the same anymore.

Before I started this, I was already in the middle of something new, a perspective tangibly different from how I was used to seeing things. Writing it all down and learning to put it into words has taken it to another level.

I remember cutting a lot of mental anchors and making tough decisions in a “this is it” kind of moment, but nothing really happened right away. After a while though, I started seeing some unexpected results. I remember the fear and excitement I felt while I started to notice myself interacting with the world in a different way.

We literally anchor ourselves to the ideas in our heads. We tie abstract memories to who we are and what we think we know. This isn’t some new-age crap, it’s real whether you pay attention to it or not.

I’ve found that as I start paying more attention, I find there is a LOT that can be done without. After cutting a few of these anchors, I learned that instead of floating away, or downstream with the rest like I was afraid of, I’m free to aim myself wherever I choose.

There are a few things that I can say are generally helpful for anyone trying to find what ties them down regardless of lifestyle or stage-of-life:

Meditate – Anyone can learn things about themselves from this practice, and there are a million different ways to do it. The main thing is to just sit still, shut the hell up for a bit, and quiet the noise that is your mind.

Fix your posture and breathe better – If you’re lounging around on a Friday night, slouch all you want. The rest of the time, it really helps to learn the basics of using your lungs and body more effectively. I’m no expert, but learning about these 2 things made a big difference for me and I see a lot of people who could benefit from it like I have.

Stretch, exercise, and eat better food – These 3 things together pretty much brought me back to life. Years of eating garbage and getting progressively more stagnant contributes to zombification. Autopilot has it’s time and place, but snapping yourself out of it takes movement and quality fuel.

 


 

Day26: Wants and Needs

Radiculous Day 26
Image by luce_beaulieu.

We can do SO MANY THINGS that we think we can’t. Military recruits who’ve never exercised before get into phenomenal shape, new mothers go months without enough sleep, and people who “aren’t smart” run businesses after chance promotions. This is common, but those same things are uncommon when done without the crying baby or diligent boss.

Often after working all day for someone else, I’m “too tired” to do things for myself that should be just as important. But some mornings when I’m “too tired” I still manage to drag my ass up and out to work. Its easy to see how people go through huge parts of their lives stuck in this cycle.

Of course we have to work, we have to take care of our kids/family, and we have to keep promises and agreements. But when it comes time for keeping ourselves in shape, doing that thing we’ve always wanted, or pushing boundaries for our own sake we dig in our heels and come to a screeching stop. Distinguishing wants from needs is a good thing, but it’s not the whole picture.

At some point, the dreams need addressed. When that time comes (you’ll feel it), don’t let yourself get so accustomed to old habits that you just find excuses to continue stalling. I’m not talking about watching your favorite show or reading Twilight (you should be ashamed!), I’m talking about moving to [dream location here], learning and practicing an art for art’s sake, or entering that contest/competition you think you’d do well in.

When we turn into the kinds of people who say yes to those possibilities we end up being better people. Then, when the time does come to do work for others, we can be useful in a more genuine way. Being “selfish” and stealing time for yourself is better than being a lifeless drone or an unloving partner/parent/friend.

Ironically, putting yourself aside for others in the extreme can diminish the value you’re providing. By demanding time to cultivate your passion, you can actually become better at dealing with quotidian life and doing quality work.

 


 

Day27: How To Suck and Be More Awkwarder

Radiculous Day 27
Image by Helga Weber.

Wow. The month is almost over. It has been pretty damn hard coming up with things to say every day that aren’t just “Today was okay, I fixed computers and surfed the web.” but I think it has turned out pretty good.

Some of the posts read a bit like a self-help book but whatever I really believe all of the things I said and there’s plenty of negativity out there already. Not in my house. Negativity is only aloud in forms of sarcasm, humor, and satire.

After spending a couple years on autopilot, it seems funny to find myself here with all of these ideas coming together. I’m excited about what I’ve done and what I’m doing. None of this would have happened if I had let “31days” remain an idea or if I had given up half way.

I still remember how it was when I first started this:

It sucked.
it was awkward.
I felt dumb.

No wonder we just do the same thing over and over, to do anything new or different involves being a sucky awkward dumbass. I don’t know that there’s any point to that, but it’s true. If you’re afraid of looking stupid, you will never do anything great.

 


 

Day28: The Day I Took Drugs

Radiculous Day 28
Image by Curtis Gregory Perry.

I’m on drugs today. I’m a complete and total failure in all that is life ;) I said I would go the whole month of January without putting ANY drugs into my system, and I almost did. 4 weeks now I’ve gone without a trace of anything that could even be considered a drug, but today I caved and took 3 Advil.

…Yeah, its not really a big dramatic relapse, but I figured I could hold out for another three fucking days after going 4 weeks but it was just too much. See, I have an impacted Wisdom tooth, I’m scheduled to meet someone to have them all (5!) removed on February 1st. I can’t really have teeth pulled without drugs and I’m so serious about this goal that I pushed the date so I wouldn’t have to break my commitment. It may seem stupid to some people that I was putting off urgent dental work for something like a ‘31days” project, but I was adamant about making this goal. Remember when I said if you really want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes?

This a good example of being unreasonable for the sake of a goal. I picked something random, and started making sacrifices for it.

But… Today I woke up with a swollen spot behind my back molar. It was uncomfortable, but I was prepared to suck it up. Then it got worse… Then it got REALLY BAD. I couldn’t talk or do my job, my face was swelling up, my pulse was throbbing into my jaw. There was a distinct point where I just couldn’t handle it anymore. It went from “Ouch, good thing I’m taking these things out soon” to “HOLY SHIT I AM GONNA DIE DON’T EVEN TALK TO ME I WILL KILL YOU” pretty fast.

So I left for lunch telling my boss I might not come back. I bought some Advil and took 1, then 5 minutes later I decided that since I already failed my month-long test I would take another 2. (See how that works?) All I can say is that was the most relief I’ve ever gotten from any painkiller, ever. The swelling went down, and an hour later I went back to finish my day. I still plan on not taking any more until my surgery on the 1st if I can avoid it, and if I do it will be for the swelling (Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory) which was causing all the pain.

So yeah, I couldn’t hang. But 28 days is a good run. After the month is officially over if I can say all I had was 3 Advil that’s still pretty darn good.

 


 

Day29: Into The Unknown

Radiculous Day 29
Image by Zephyrance.

Today I got my hair cut by a beautiful girl named Ashleigh, spent a long time getting this website setup, and went for a short bike ride in which I went over the handlebars exactly twice.

So that was pretty awesome.

As the days run out of this project I have to feel a little sad. People keep talking about when I ‘come back’ like I’ve been on a trip or something. “When are you gonna come join us again?” I’ve been right here the whole time, WTF? While it’s always fresh in my mind what day I’m on from writing this, I’m definitely not counting down days to freedom or anything. I’m afraid people might be a bit disappointed when the month is over but I’m not binging on anything I can get my hands on.

At this point, I really like not smoking or drinking. I like how much I’ve been able to accomplish this month, I like the attitude I have towards other people when my brain isn’t clouded. I like not “needing” a hit or a drink or a cup of coffee in the morning.

At the same time though, I’m really looking forward to relaxing and having a couple beers on Friday evenings with good company or slowly drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning. Since I didn’t have any real problems with my drug use before it’s likely that things will be close to how they were before after this month ends. The difference, though, is that now I have a reference point for keeping the (un)importance of it in perspective.

I do plan on doing another 31Days project, and I have a few ideas. If you enjoyed this little series, if you got any benefit at all from it, please subscribe to the RSS feed When I’m finished with my next experiment, you’ll receive the new posts automatically.

In 2 days, this project will be over. What will change? What will stay the same? Instead of being anxious about these questions I feel excited to see what will come next, and I’d like to encourage everyone to adopt that same attitude. It’s a hell of a lot easier than taking the more traditional ‘worry more’ route.

 


 

Day30: Thank You For Reading

Radiculous Day 30
Image by visual panic.

It is very late, I just got back from the Winter X Games in Aspen. It was great. Surprisingly the highlight of the night for me wasn’t the infamous Shawn White, it was Snowmobile Best Trick, those guys have balls of steel! On the 4 hour drive home we stopped for gas and my friend wanted a cup of coffee. I really could’ve used one too, but I powered through it and will probably sleep better now that I’m back. It struck me that I just passed one of my last tests before this month is over.

On the long drive home, we talked about my month and I got to say a lot of the things I’ve been writing here out loud for the first time. It helped me to really put a nice little package around what I’ve learned and what this month meant to me.

I will forever look back at this month as a reference whenever I need to make a change for myself that I have reserves about. “That’s nothing, there was this one time…” is an easy way to get the confidence to start building momentum, and this will be a great “one time…”.

I’m happy that I did this, and happy that I get to share it with you. If you are actually still reading this, or even if you skipped everything and ended up here, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to hear what I wanted to say. I highly encourage anyone feeling “stuck” to try their own 31Days project. When done right, it can fuel changes that would never happen otherwise.

 


 

THE END –Day31: Privilege, Self-Will, and Teeth

Radiculous Day 31

Well, here we are. The last few hours of the last day. It’s been quite a ride eh? I was able to write something (hopefully) meaningful every day except one. And I had to take 2 more Advil today so that makes 5 total. For the entire month of January I give my solemn word that I took no other drug of any kind. NOTHING that could even remotely be considered a drug entered my system except 5 ibuprofen, which as you can see on today’s pic were seriously needed. Notice the bottom right tooth drilling into my back molar, he’s the culprit.

So what’s next? Now I plan on focusing on my next project, which relates to media instead of drugs.

The essential message of this entire series is that you CAN make a difference in your life if you want it bad enough. The usual suspects (skill, luck, intelligence) aren’t enough, and they aren’t even needed. Better, or even great things usually come in the form of small gradual changes too small to even notice. All it takes is a random idea and a lot of willpower.

This month I chose to test/exercise my willpower in the form of restraint. It can also come in other shapes, it might look like determination, persistence, or patience. Regardless of the type, self-will is one of the most valuable skills I’ve ever learned.

I wanted to share that with you all because I see in myself and my peers a sort of condition caused by living with advantageous wealth in a time of unprecedented change. We live with privilege and yet, we still suffer from many things those privileges can’t remedy.

With all of this uncertainty, I see some people fervently clinging to failing structures. I see others hiding in denial, or skewing their disadvantages to mask the dilemma. But I also see a select few doing great things, working to repair what isn’t working and learning to embrace this new rapid-change environment that technology has blessed cursed presented us with.

I’m about as independent as they come, but I’m beginning to see more and more how much we all depend on each other, and how badly we are failing ourselves and our communities. As 31Days comes to an end, I see great possibilities for us all. But we all have a lot of work to do, and a long way to go.

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