How Stories Shape Our Culture

story book

What stories shape your life?

Take a moment to think about that.

We all live based upon stories. Collective stories are the basis of culture and personal stories are the basis of how we view ourselves as individuals.

Stories are the underpinnings of human reality. Humanity is built upon stories. Stories shape our culture, our lives and the way we perceive the world.

It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false, if a story is believed, it becomes a blueprint of reality.

Cultural Stories

Every culture has stories that act as the very basis for how people live their lives.

In ancient times, mythology shaped the way people viewed reality, the world around them, society and themselves.

Any religious culture is dominated by the stories of that religion. People’s whole lives, down to the finest detail, are dictated by those stories.

Our modern western culture is based on a combination of science, religion and history (his-story). Science is constantly updated, disproving older theories, while failing to explain the “why” questions of our reality. Most organized religions are distortions of spiritual truths for purposes of control. And his-story is merely the story told by the winners of wars.

These cultural belief systems are attempts at explaining truth, at best. And at their worst, they’re attempts at control and manipulation. I’m not saying that all of these are false; I’m saying that regardless of being true or false, these stories shape our experience of reality and every aspect of how we live our lives.

Let’s take the scientific paradigm as an example. According to this story (again, I’m not saying it’s necessarily true or false):

  • We are our bodies, or more specifically our brains.
  • We live on Planet Earth, which revolves around the sun, in an incomprehensibly large universe.
  • This universe started with the Big Bang (the Big Bang THEORY).
  • On Earth, we evolved from apes, growing smarter and more and more sophisticated, until we’ve dominated nature and now live in the wonderful culmination of all of that evolution and “progress.”
  • You see, this is a STORY, or the background program that we run our lives by. And that’s not even getting into the stories of history, money, work, relationships, purpose, pleasure and everything else that makes up our belief systems. These things determine how we perceive and interact with reality.

    Where does this story get us? Well, take a look at the world around you. Check out the “news.” If it seems a little disharmonious (which anyone with eyes can see), we have to start reevaluating the stories we’re living by.

    grand central station

    Your Story

    What stories are you telling yourself? What is your identity based on? What labels do you identify with?

    In the midst of the trend of collective stories, we have the personal stories we tell ourselves. These are our individual stories that shape the way we view and interact with the world.

    Let’s use a man named Henry as an example, whose personal story might look like this:
    I’m Henry.
    I’m a white man.
    I’m an American.
    I’m a Christian.
    I’m not good at math (because my third grade teacher told me that and I’ve believed her ever since).
    I’m good at fixing things (because my dad said I was when I fixed his truck).
    I’m an introvert so I don’t have many friends.
    My favorite color is blue.
    My favorite food is steak.
    I’m a car mechanic, so I’m not good with computers.
    I’m a lower middle class guy.
    I go to work every day, then come home, drink a beer and turn on the tv to relax at night.
    I don’t have time to eat healthy or work out.
    I’m a fan of the Tennessee Titans.
    I wear boots and flannels because I’m manly.

    Ok, you get the point. This is all a STORY. Almost all of those things could be dropped and changed instantaneously. Our friend Henry could literally have a completely new life tomorrow, if he chose to.

    Programming and patterns are incredibly hard to break for us humans. But simple awareness of the stories we tell ourselves puts us in the position to consciously choose what our stories are.

    So what stories are you telling yourself? What identities are you carrying with you day in and day out? What patterns do you have? What are you building momentum towards?

    Gain some awareness of the stories you’re telling yourself. Only then can you choose to change your life for the better.

    individual

    Creating New Stories

    We can create new stories in each moment.

    It is a choice. But you have to first be aware to even know that you have a choice.

    We can tell new tales and shape reality in our own way.

    What do you want out of life? What is your purpose? What’s on your bucket list? Who do you want to be?

    Be open and willing to change.

    Find your vision and start working towards that. Only tell yourself stories which help to create that vision of yourself.

    The Power of Fiction

    The importance of stories is why I love fiction so much. Whether reading or writing, fiction helps to reshape our world.

    Truths which exist beyond the limits of our collective analytical mind are able to be conveyed through fiction, metaphor and myth. Paradigm-shifting truths are often expressed in this way. Just take a look at any sacred text or brilliant piece of poetry.

    Literary works can cut through and transcend cultural biases and blindness, giving the reader a taste of a completely “novel” reality (see what I did there?). It allows one to see outside of the box they’ve existed in their whole life, and presents the opportunity to step outside.

    This is why I read and write a lot of fiction. If we change the stories we tell, we change how our world is shaped.

    Want to get your hands on an example of a paradigm-shifting story?

    I just published a new book, Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth.

    It’s a story written from the perspective of a dog, told in a journal-like format.

    And the twist is that dogs aren’t just dogs. They’re actually multi-dimensional superbeings checking out Earth and humanity.

    This story will stretch your mind, provide you with insights, entertain you, make you laugh and a lot more. It’s available for both paperback and Kindle.

    Get your paws on it here: Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth

    Let’s reshape our world.

    – Stevie P

    Stop Consuming Culture and Create Your Own

    hands create sculpting

    Are you creating the life you want? Or are you just absorbing a version of reality that has been projected upon you?

    Are you living life on your own terms? Or are you letting your hopes and dreams become the desires of someone else?

    Are you maximizing your own state of being? Or are you focusing on external distractions?

    We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.
    ~ Terence McKenna

     
    Absorbing culture, as opposed to creating your own, is an insult to both your potential and individuality.

    We’re all super-creative beings, it’s just been systematically suppressed with most people. The potential that resides within every human being is almost unfathomable from the “poor little me” perspective. Every single person has unique skills and talents that, when cultivated, will be the building blocks of a better world. Are you cultivating and expressing your gifts? Or are you wasting your time on celebrity gossip or debating the latest sideshow act that the media has programmed you to react to?

    The Low Information Diet

    Many top performers in various fields (and happy people in general) consciously limit and filter the information they expose themselves to, particularly the news. Why? Because they’re focused on creating! And you should too if you care at all about living your life to the fullest.

    I’m focusing my energy on growing stronger myself; which means exploring new ideas, trying new things out, not being afraid of experience, becoming a role model that can support other guys in becoming stronger versions of themselves. Because if I don’t do that, I’m just contributing to the fucked-up-ness of the world.
    ~ Elliott Hulse

     
    The biggest culprit, in terms of information that hinders your well-being, is the news. When have you ever felt good after watching the news? And what did you personally do about the latest popularized tragedy? You’d be much better off working on yourself and helping those around you.

    The ‘news’ is nothing more than outrage porn. Or fear porn. Or literal porn. Completely ignore it and spend your mental energy focusing instead on being healthy, being creative and improving 1% each day.
    ~ James Altucher (check out his article on this called “Go On a News Diet, Starting Today”)

     
    It’s your choice whether or not to consume something. I’m not saying to never watch a movie or read a book again. Just be conscious about what you’re consuming and filter out the nonsense that doesn’t serve your best interest. Be mindful of your informational ingestion. Is what you’re consuming in alignment with your highest good? Is it making you a better person? Is it making you more of a role model to those around you?

    Author, investor and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss has an entire category on his blog entitled “Low-Information Diet.” Yes, being conscious about the information you choose to absorb is that important.

    If you’ve noticed, I’m quoting a few people in this article, yet I’m synthesizing these sources to create my own unique work here. Also, the information I’m sharing sheds light on things within you that you may not have been aware of. There’s a big difference between consciously seeking information that will help you improve and mindlessly consuming asinine gossip and spiritually paralyzing fear-mongering (“news”).

    Our brains have a hard time processing what’s happening to billions of people, especially all of the horrors which the news seems to be keen on feeding people. Every person has a threshold of trauma which they can tolerate in their lives before the accumulated trauma becomes their primary operating system. The news creates information overload and forces people into a fear-induced paralysis.

    Focus on what you can do right now. Tune into yourself, start expressing your inner gifts, spread love to everyone you encounter and inspire by example.

    Lifting the Veil

    Even the most conservative and closed-minded people can sense the blatant dysfunction of the culture we find ourselves in, although many refuse to admit the sheer grandiosity of the lies we’ve been sold.

    Examine all of the major systems in place and you’ll find common themes of fear, deception, separation and scarcity. Mainstream media, education, religion, energy, healthcare (sick-care), politics and economics all operate under this paradigm. That’s why disharmony arises everywhere mainstream culture touches.

    Thankfully, there are alternatives emerging across the board. And you can be a catalyst for positive change as well. Everyone has something amazing to contribute. But that will be stifled if all you do is focus externally.

    Projected Reality

    The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.
    ~ John Wheeler

     
    Reality is not as we’re told. It’s not as fixed and machine-like as we assume it to be (without any investigation), but more of a quantum soup of information that we’re decoding and projecting into simultaneously.

    The building blocks of our reality, atoms, are not solid. They’re more than 99.999999% empty space. So how can a universe consisting of these non-solid atoms be solid? Well, it’s not. We just decode it that way. Just like how objects in video games appear solid, yet they’re not.

    And we’re exactly in this situation in our world. We look around and it doesn’t seem that mathematical at all, but everything we see is made out of elementary particles like quarks and electrons. And what properties does an electron have? Does it have a smell or a colour or a texture? No! As far as we can tell the only properties an electron has are -1, 1/2 and 1. We physicists have come up with geeky names for these properties, like electric charge, or spin, or lepton number, but the electron doesn’t care what we call it, the properties are just numbers.
    ~ Max Tegmark

     
    The human brain processes approximately 11 million impressions every second that it decodes into the five senses. These 11 million are filtered down to about 40 and from that our sense of reality is constructed. The brain also “fills the gaps” of the unprocessed information based upon what it believes should be there. It’s all about how we decode this sea of information. So if you change the way you decode reality, you experience a different version of reality.

    Along with decoding the general informational template of reality, we’re all perpetually projecting into reality as well. The observer effect and the double-slit experiment show that the observer actually influences what is being observed. How crazy is that? Everything is interconnected and your consciousness creates ripples upon the web of reality whether you like it or not.

    So it is highly important to be mindful of your beliefs that are decoding reality in a certain way and your focus/emotions/thoughts/words that are constantly being projected upon reality.

    Energy flows where attention goes. What are you giving energy to?

    Imagine your focus as life force energy flowing wherever it is directed. If you’re watching the news, you’re draining your own energy (it really is energetic vampirism) and energetically contributing to the fear, destruction and violence. Instead focus on what you can do to improve yourself and make the world a better place. Objective awareness is crucial too. I’m neither ignorant nor apathetic to what’s going on in the world. It’s just that I choose not to focus my energy on it and focus instead on improving myself, writing, inspiring, being kind to everyone I encounter, being a role model…etc.

    The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
    ~ Dan Millman

     
    Television is like a hack into our reality interface. It programs the subconscious, which then makes you decode and project reality based on that program. When you watch television, you’re in a state of light hypnosis, meaning your subconscious mind is primed to pick up hypnotic suggestions in the form of advertisements, subliminal messages, beliefs, ideals, opinions…etc. Of course there are some good shows out there, but the majority of it (especially news and commercials) are psyche-hacks to make you decode, project and act under a paradigm of fear, ego-enslavement, disempowerment and inadequacy. If you notice, most people exhibit predictable programmed reactions based on events publicized in the media. It’s all engineered that way.

    There are six companies that control 90% of the US media. This is a ridiculous centralization of information sources. Combine this with how insidious television is and it’s the perfect storm for mass brainwashing. Get your information from various democratized sources (to have multiple data points for reference) and form your own opinions.

    It’s all in plain sight too. Remember, television is called “programming” for a reason.

    television programming

    Culture Creation Case Studies

    Look at what the downtrodden youth of the Bronx, New York created when American culture did nothing but oppress them. Neighborhoods were impoverished, schools were underfunded and traditional musical instruments weren’t available. They had limited access to many modern conveniences and a burning desire to express themselves. So what did they do? They created their own culture, hip-hop, which revolutionized music, poetry, art, dance, fashion and language.

    The hippie movement of the 1960’s is another example of culture creation. During this time period, the Vietnam War (a horrible campaign of violence predicated on lies, like every war) was going on and the American way, up until that point, was characterized by unquestioning obedience towards authority. But the hippies bucked the system (some by protesting the war and aiding the civil rights movement) and created their own counter-culture instead of passively absorbing the culture projected upon them. That movement planted the seeds for alternative thinking, questioning authority, open-mindedness, various forms of artistic expression, spirituality beyond religion and a foundation of love instead of the undercurrent of fear that pervades mainstream systems.

    Changing the World Starts with You

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    Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
    ~ Rumi

     
    You are the leverage point from which the world changes. Trying to change the external world without changing yourself first is like trying to comb the mirror instead of your own hair. And reality is a sort of mirror of our internal state (see the evidence above).

    Also, if you’re changing things without a foundation of self-mastery, that change is coming from a fundamentally compromised place. An external focus on change is like standing on top of a boat yelling at things to move out of your way, while internal change is simply steering the boat.

    How to Change the World

    Know thyself – Get in tune with yourself. Go within, meditate, observe your thoughts and emotions, do the inner work, rid yourself of limiting beliefs, let go of trauma you’re holding onto, continuously improve yourself and find/create your purpose. You are the hinge from which the door to all change swings on, and inner work is the opening of the door.

    Focus on your experienced reality – Not what’s on tv, not what’s on the news, not what Kanye West is doing. Focus on your experience, your personal relationships, your family, your community, your skills, your home, your joys, your passions, how you treat the people you encounter…etc. Everything else besides your present experience is just conceptual. What action can you take right now? (No, sitting on your couch moaning about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton doesn’t count.)

    Vote with your dollar – We live in a consumerist society and corporations run the governments. These companies cannot exist if people don’t buy their products/services, it’s as simple as that. Are you contributing to the problem or solution? Be mindful of where you spend your money, because that’s the real voting (it’s democratized, direct and not rigged).

    Find your gifts and express them – When you do the inner work and focus on your experienced reality (not manipulated “tv reality”), you will inevitably find and develop useful skills. Everyone has something useful and incredibly potent to contribute. You just need to shed the societal conditioning and find out for yourself. And each person, by sharing their gifts, will contribute to the creation of a better world. Some will invent ways to harness free energy (rendering oil dependency useless), some will be architects who design eco-friendly buildings, some will be great gardeners, some will be writers, some will be musicians…etc. All you need to do is look within and you’ll find that you’ve had brilliant gifts all along.

    There are millions of other people that would benefit from a little bit of insight or wisdom from you in the way you choose to offer it. Maybe you want to become a coach. Maybe you want to build a business. Maybe you create a non-profit organization. Maybe you make videos. Maybe you write books. Maybe you make poetry. Maybe you play the violin. Whatever it is, you’re adding beauty to the world. You’ve gotta keep that balance. If you let the death and destruction weigh you down, you’re becoming an anchor!
    ~ Elliott Hulse

     
    Be a beacon of love – Never underestimate small acts of kindness. The little things you do in each moment matter immensely, and they add up. Who knows how profoundly you can inspire someone with one simple act of kindness? Are you spreading love or are you contributing to the disharmony? The choice is up to you in each moment.

    One love.

    – Stevie P!

     

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    My Experience at the OSHO International Meditation Resort

    OSHO

    There I was, wearing a maroon robe, in a pyramid-shaped auditorium full of people, screaming incoherent gibberish in a voice that was half Yoda and half Jamaican until I broke out into uncontrollable, cackling laughter.

    Here’s the kicker… This was all part of a meditation. How awesome is that?

    I just spent two weeks at the OSHO International Meditation Resort in Pune, India. The word cathartic immediately comes to mind in describing my experience.

    What is the OSHO International Meditation Resort?

    It’s a meditation retreat center, founded by the author, philosopher, spiritual teacher and not-giving-a-fuck-connoisseur Osho. Osho founded the center prior to the death of his physical body in 1990. (Check out the website here.)

    Even though the OSHO center is based on meditation, it’s far from sitting in the lotus position and being serious all day. Most of the meditations are active meditations, combining various kinds of movement, dancing, laughing and all sorts of eclectic techniques along with the traditional sitting in silence. I’ve never danced so much in my life, my activity level was through the roof and I felt like a little kid again.

    Another distinguishing characteristic of the OSHO International Meditation Resort is the attire. Everyone has to wear maroon robes throughout the day and white robes during the evening ceremony held each night. I actually had resistance to this idea at first. I’m such an individual that wearing the same thing as everyone else feels like I’m stifling my authenticity. But everything has a purpose (especially when it comes to Osho). When people wear the same color, or the same outfit, it syncs everyone up and amplifies the group’s energy. This collective syncing can be used for positive (meditation, celebration…etc.) or negative (dictatorships, armies…etc.). I wore a sleeveless maroon robe, so I felt like a badass warrior shaman for two weeks. It was surprisingly enjoyable to wear each day. And after every meditation, I felt like I was gliding more than walking. I may never go back to pants again.

    Here’s a little run down of the strengths and weaknesses of the OSHO International Meditation Resort, from my perspective:

    Positives

    The Atmosphere – The vibes of the place are just so positive, peaceful and freeing. It’s conducive to leaving your inhibitions behind and reclaiming your childlike nature. Everyone is pleasant, everyone talks to each other, laughter is ever-present, dance is continuous and the whole place is coated in a feeling of joyful serenity. Besides a few slight imperfections (which you’ll read below), it’s an ideal way of living.

    The People – It’s a potpourri of interesting international people. I met dozens of amazing people during my time at the Osho center. The people in general tend to be very open and friendly, which I really appreciate. There’s not really any awkwardness either, because the environment enables everyone to be wholeheartedly genuine and authentic.

    The Meditations – Osho’s meditations are so effective because they’re active. They’re designed to clear out all of the mental/emotional baggage through movement and expression before going into the depths of meditation. If you were subjected to western conditioning, there is no way that you can just sit in silence with a clear mind. You must first get rid of all the bullshit you’re holding onto before you can experience true meditation. Movement and expression are the mediums through which you become a blank slate again. And from that blank slate, you quickly learn to transcend the incessant chatter of the mind.

    I’m able to go far deeper into meditation after I’ve exerted myself. It’s really difficult for me to just sit in silence and pretend like my body doesn’t exist. When I fully express and let go of everything I’m holding onto, my mind stops getting caught in circuitous thought loops. I’m able to dip into the blissful serenity of nothingness. That’s true meditation. This is why Osho’s meditation techniques resonate with me far more than anything else I’ve come across.

    For more information and demonstrations of these active meditations, check out my online course Primal Release.

    Fun – The place is a lot of fun. People leave their inhibitions at the door. No one takes anything too seriously. Everyone dances their heart out, laughs a lot and radiates positivity. During the evening meetings, Osho’s talks are played on a big screen. They’re the perfect blend of insight and hilarity. Osho is funnier than most stand-up comedians, and that’s no exaggeration.

    I had so much fun during my time there. My dear friend hit the nail on the head by describing it as “a place where we learn to become a little kid again.”

    Negatives

    Too Many Rules – There’s a bunch of tedious rules. You have to wear a maroon robe all day, you have to wear maroon when swimming in the pool, you can’t walk through the campus while the evening ceremony is going on (They lock the gates. What happened to freedom?), you have to scoop food into your bowl a certain way at the cafeteria…etc. There are a bunch of weird, little rules. As someone who values extreme freedom, this was a difficult adjustment for me.

    I think the rules are excessive. I know that some are meant to create awareness, but it’s to the extent where it makes things a bit frustrating, especially for a “no rules” person like myself. I got charged extra for not putting food in certain containers one time. And I couldn’t go in the pool my first day because I didn’t have a maroon bathing suit (I had to buy one). But I learned, adjusted quickly and got into a nice flow before I knew it.

    Also, by the points above, you can tell that it’s becoming more of a beurocratic structure by the day (and especially because Osho himself isn’t around to lend his vision). Although it’s still far more open and freeing than most places, it really epitomized that when it first started. Apparently it was cheap, had little rules and was even more free and open. That’s why some people think that everyone just has sex there. Maybe that was the case back in the day, but now it’s just about as sexual as any open European culture; which is a good balance, in my opinion.

    Costly – It costs a lot to be there. Most people from Western countries can afford it, but it’s very expensive for India. It’s as costly as most retreats I’ve seen in the US. It’s also the opposite of all-inclusive. There are also countless little things to pay for. You have to pay for food, to use the pool, for your robes, a maroon bathing suit, courses, any meditation accessories (meditation chair, mat, blindfold…etc). Just when you think you have everything you need, you have to buy something else.

    Because of those two drawbacks (rules and costliness), it’s not a quick or smooth adjustment when you first come. I expected to just walk in and be all zen’d out from the get go, but I actually went through a day or two of frustration before I eased into a nice groove. Most people I talked to experienced the same thing as well. But you know what? Overall, it’s worth it. The juice is worth the squeeze.

    Conclusion

    I would recommend the OSHO International Meditation Resort to anyone looking to get to know themselves better, do some inner work and have fun throughout the process. If you’re willing to shell out some cash and adjust to mildly annoying rules, you will benefit exponentially, meet some amazing people and have a truly life-changing experience.

    “You are a paradise, but you have forgotten yourself. You are looking everywhere except within you, and that is the only place where you are going to find the treasure, the truth of beauty.” – Osho

    One love.

    – Stevie P
     

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    Alcohol: Philosophizing on the Fun Poison

    “Cheers!” You lift your bulbous glass filled with golden liquid, peaked by a touch of foam at the top. Everyone smiles mischievously as an orchestra of “clink” resonates through the air. You close your eyes and take a sip. It tastes oddly delicious. Bitter, yet accented with a potpourri of unique, subtle flavors. Your lips gently smack together a few times as you bask in the primal enjoyment of taste. You’ve come a long way since the first time you tried it, re-living when you almost lost your lunch after glugging that unanticipated, surprising smack of intense harshness.

    You get that familiar warm and fuzzy feeling as the substance slithers into your bloodstream. It’s like being comforted by a seductive muse. You smile, laugh and enjoy yourself, but they are shadows of their genuine counterparts. She has you… And you brush your true essence aside for a deep dive into her delusory bliss.

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    Oh alcohol, the ever-present fun poison. It pervades our culture, to the extent that its presence is demanded at every social event.

    As a teenager, I would indulge in “the fun poison” to shed my inhibitions. It was a double-edged sword I used to cut through my social anxieties. And because “everyone was doing it” it helped me to fit in more and seem cool.

    Thankfully, I didn’t completely depend on alcohol for building social skills and confidence. I developed confidence through more intrinsic means as well (health, fitness, meditation, skill acquisition, writing, reading a lot…etc). But once I became socially confident in most situations, I found myself using alcohol for other reasons…

    One being the random spontaneity that alcohol tends to beget, and the other was to relate to as many people as possible. Regarding random spontaneity, most everyone would agree that you get into all kinds of “random adventures” when intoxicated. Much more than your “paralyzed-with-fear-and-conditioning” day-to-day self. And with relating to as many people as possible, it’s difficult for many unique-thinking-introverts to interact within a culture that glorifies extroversion and disingenuous small-talk.

    This is why alcohol is a profound indicator of the insidious predicaments of our culture and collective psychology.

    Let’s dive into some of these:

    Escapism

    Though escapism has not driven my alcohol consumption, it’s the case with many people. Life is difficult for so many, and alcohol, like any conscious-altering substance, provides a temporary refuge from the pain. It’s a short-sighted way of forgetting about problems (And will, in fact, exacerbate problems in the long-run). We all know that there are far more beneficial ways to address this issue (that’s another tangent) but alcohol’s omnipresence in society makes it all too accessible. Combine that with a society based on fear and limitation, and we have fertile ground for escapism.

    Social Anxiety

    The overwhelming majority of people don’t effectively express themselves (myself included sometimes). There is deep-seated, fear-programming that keeps us in an ego-driven state of comparison, feelings of inadequacy and lack of self-love. Most people go about life in a rigid, fearful and overly stoic state. But give them a few drinks, and they start expressing. You see them sing, dance and reveal things you would never have imagined if you saw them a few hours beforehand. Why does everyone have social anxiety? Why don’t we express ourselves like we know we should? Why is it so difficult to just be ourselves? Why can’t we sing and dance our hearts whenever the feeling arises? Why can’t we be random and spontaneous without drinking? These are the deeper questions we must ask ourselves.

    Relating to the Masses

    The philosopher/writer/speaker Alan Watts was a brilliantly unique man. He dove into the depths of human consciousness and shared profound insights on literally everything. But what people rarely mention is that he was an alcoholic. Watts would be invited to give presentations in front of large crowds, and noticed that he could relate to his audience more when he had a few martinis prior to speaking. This also applied to the after parties that often accompanied the events. Watts was a deep-thinker, who probably found it excruciating to engage in meaningless small-talk. He used alcohol as a crutch to make talking about the weather less cringe-worthy and as a bridge to discussions about deep, meaningful subjects. I’ve found this to be the case with myself and several other “deep-thinkers” I know as well. We must learn how to incorporate meaningful conversation and connection without compromising the health of our mind, body and spirit in doing so.

    We need to ask ourselves some important questions… Why do we choose to indulge in this toxic substance? And are there more beneficial alternatives to give us the same “results” that alcohol produces? (like shedding inhibition, openly expressing ourselves…etc.)

    Starting today, I choose not to consume alcohol. For how long, I don’t know yet. But I also aim to be freely expressive, socially fearless, ridiculous and unabashedly myself at all times. I started a habit on the app Lift called “Alcohol-Free and More Fun.” I welcome anyone else to participate there and join me in this challenge, especially if what I said resonates with you.

    Life is a party , you just have to make the decision to step in the door (and not destroy the house while you’re at it).

    Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

    -Stevie P!