On Caffeine & Alcohol

The other day, a friend asked me how my fondness for simplicity and minimalism affects my stance on things like caffeine and alcohol. Good question.

I don’t partake in either. Obviously, the two substances aren’t synonymous, but my reasons for abstaining apply to both.

  1. Consumption. A central focus of minimalism is to break free from the bonds of our material-oriented, advertising-driven society. Minimalism is built on the concepts of less and enough. The goal is to stop consuming things you don’t need. This includes making unnecessary purchases and eating unhealthy foods just because a television commercial says you should. Consuming less frees you to do other things. Consuming less also helps you save money, and I would hate to make a habit of spending $4 at Starbucks every day or however many dollars at the liquor store every weekend. Water satiates all of my liquid-consuming needs, and it’s free.

  2. Dependence. I never want to be in a situation where I need caffeine or alcohol to function properly. I never want to be one of those people who is “useless until I’ve had my coffee”. I don’t want to have to have a drink to become the life of the party, if I was actually interested in being that person. Dependence is limiting. By not needing these things, I become a little more free, and my life is a little bit simpler.

  3. Health. This post isn’t meant to be a self-righteous indictment of people who enjoy caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. If it was, I’d have no friends. Clearly, there are appropriate ways to enjoy these things, i.e. in moderation. Several health-related websites I follow actually advocate caffeine for its purported health benefits, and you can find plenty of articles discussing the benefits of a glass of red wine with dinner. For my part, I certainly do enjoy a cup of tea once or twice a week. Alcohol, on the other hand, is poisonous to the human body, but I can understand how some people enjoy its effects, taste, or other properties. Being healthy in today’s society is challenging enough, though, and I’d rather avoid the added difficulty altogether.

  4. Personal. Coffee smells delicious, but most of that stuff is disgusting. I make no apologies for this position. As for alcohol, I’ve just never seen the point, for all the above reasons. I’m not a party-goer, so I don’t need the boost in social skills. I can’t speak for taste, but most of it doesn’t smell good. The concept of being drunk holds no appeal to me because I can’t possibly fathom how you would want to voluntarily give up control of the one thing you actually have control over, which is your mind. Plus, my dad’s been a recovering alcoholic for many, many years, and since I’m a lot like him, I feel its best to follow his example and avoid any alcoholism in my family’s history entirely.

I think that sums it up. Again, these are just my opinions, and I encourage you to do what works for you.

Coincidentally, Ev Bogue just posted about why he untethered from alcohol. It’s a good read.