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Test your knowledge of key facts and curious details about alcohol and us, as explored in the book Alcohol Companion.
“Losers”, an eight part series on Netflix, offers welcome and uplifting insight into the rich rewards of failing.
There are hardly any winners among us so it is extraordinary the extent to which they hog our attention.
The exceptional is curious and curiosity attracts audiences, but making an exception a media staple makes for an exceptionally warped outlook.
Comparing our running to Usain Bolt’s, our business to Warren Buffett’s or writing to Mark Twain’s is a recipe for feeling pretty ordinary.
There are necessarily 99.999%, or more, losers in most rankings, most of which we never even get a chance to join.
It is inaccurate and harmful to believe we operate in a meritocracy. Luck plays the largest part in any success we have.
Redressing the balance
“Losers” helps by telling the story of sportspeople who were near the top of their field, but were lucky enough to miss the number one spot.
It offers joyful tales of the suboptimal from boxers, ice skaters, dog sledders, curlers, ultra runners, footballers, golfers and basketball players.
Being denied the pinnacle in one narrow area, we learn, is often a helpful reminder its pursuit comes at the expense of other things.
French ice skater Surya Bonaly (right) found it impossible to secure Olympic gold, I knew. The fact she prospered afterwards, I did not.
So the heroic failures in this series led to new types of goal and new forms of success, typically better than being breifly number one.
Dominant winners will typically only get this chance when they get over the hill. Losers get this chance handed to us early.
Our dedications are praised, while our addictions are often scorned, but they can be seen as two sides of the same coin.
Dedication to something, just like an addiction, can obscure the negative effects it can have. Losing is a lucky chance to take stock.
“Losers” offers a range of inspiring and engaging stories about how our misfortunes can turn into new kinds of winning.
Point-scoring helps keep us entertained and motivated, but is an extremely unreliable measure of success. ■
This episode: We should not be surprised alcohol harms poorer people so much more; Toasting brewing giants’ alcohol-free successes. And the unique challenges of alcohol’s popularity. And the unlikely comforts of cold showers.
– Book and resources
– Poorer Scots 13 times more likely to be treated for alcohol-related psychiatric disorders
– The unique challenge posed by alcohol’s popularity
– Finding joy in cold showers
“If you are trying to change your approach alcohol and feel a bit out of place in the world, little wonder. It isn’t just you. This is alcohol’s unique challenge, which is not matched by other drugs, which do not stir such near-universal affection.”
What next after Dry January?; Welcome news of the possible return of guideline labelling in the UK; And why alcohol is an important subject. Links mentioned
– Alcohol Companion book and resources
– Why it’s worth considering carrying on after Dry January
– Guideline labelling’s welcome return in the UK
– Support independent alcohol journalism
This would be, arguably, a very good time to ensure we have a way to show compassion at our fingertips, but there is currently no emoji for it.
We have all had a friend text us and say they had some bad news. This is the time to show sympathy and compassion, right?
A comforting hug is one way to show it. But, as it is, the only hug on offer in the emoji lexicon is grinning (right).
It does not fit the scenario. Someone in distress is not going to appreciate a hug from someone smiling from ear to ear.
The answer is a new “compassionate hug” emoji, like the mock-up in the main picture (top), combining a hug with a concerned face.
Perhaps it is just me? But, if there is wider demand for this new hieroglyph, it could be proposed to the emoji committee.
This is, arguably, a very good time to ensure an ability to show compassion and sympathy is at
At the end of dry month the best reward may be to continue to drink within low-risk guidelines, so safeguarding the hard-won benefits.
If we normally drink regularly the last few weeks of not drinking (or nearly) are likely to have brought significant positive changes.
We will typically notice improved overall mood, lower anxiety, clearer thinking, better recall, and improved sleep, on top of sizable cash savings.
These are significant benefits worth retaining. They are also things which often improve more if we stick to a low-risk drinking pattern long-term.
They often improve for months, up to a year or more. And the first few weeks of low-risk drinking are often the hardest. So why waste them?
Carrying on can also help stabilise our mood and resilience, and help
Sticking to under 14 UK units (140ml) of alcohol a week is typically enough to have this effect, but only if we do so consistently.
Many of us find consistent low-risk drinking is more easily achieved if we do not drink at all, part of what makes Dry January a sound investment.
Why change a winning strategy, particularly one which gets easier over time? An arid February and parched March will cement our gains.
If we do try an alcoholic drink, this is also a chance to see it from a new perspective. Just one drink can spark a fitful night’s sleep in some.
For many of us, Dry January offers a unique chance to make a clear, positive choice around alcohol and gain personal insight.
Banking the hard-won gains of taking this opportunity and enjoying the positives for the long term is at least worth considering. ■