I’ve passed by the six month mark since I’ve completely stopped drinking, and my only regret is not having stopped sooner.

I was never a daily drinker, but I was always had one beer too many at parties and heavily relied on a bit of alcohol for confidence and getting through awkward social situations.

But this conflicted with other values of mine: since 2012 I’ve been developing a on and off again meditation practice, that’s grown into fully embracing the Buddhist path of spiritual development and the philosophy that underpins it.

In the Buddhist approach, there aren’t rigid and arbitrary moral rules. Instead, one undertakes a gradual training and naturally gives up behaviors once it has become obvious that they do not bring happiness and, in fact, only cause pain and suffering despite the illusion of momentary pleasure. And so it was with alcohol. I reached a point where a Friday-night drinking session was causing anxiety, leading to poor decisions, and leaving me emotionally drained for the next two or three days. Even a weeknight beer or two led to disrupted sleep, an elevated pulse for hours, and lingering anxiety.

And so stopping was easy. My physical health improved, I lost weight, and some significant mental improvements have occurred. My anxiety and weekends of melancholy are mostly gone and have been replaced with a strong confidence and determination. My meditation practice has only deepened, providing a positive feedback loop of even more benefits.

Having ethical convictions and bring your life into alignment with them is seriously undervalued by our culture.