I believe that the most sacred thing you can do for yourself is to protect your energy. By establishing and keeping consistent with healthy habits and rituals, you give yourself the opportunity to live a clear, focused, and happy life. You also “set the table” for the muse and open your own innate, divine channels to creativity. Conversely, a foggy mind and muddled soul impede not only your well being, but also your ability to access your creativity fully.
I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Kristoffer “KC” Carter about sobriety, meditation, and living an epically well-lived life. Sobriety is not just about abstaining from drinking or not consuming substances that numb you and distance you from your best self. As KC explains in our discussion, sobriety can take your life to an entirely new level of joy, freedom, creative connection, and peace. For KC, meditation was his path to sobriety, and is the lead domino for all of his other healthy choices.
We also talk about the surprising costs of drinking across a multitude of spheres: financial, emotional, creative, and time/productivity. It is easy to trod out our old excuses of not having enough time for our creativity; examining the amount of time we spend in altered states is, therefore, a worthwhile exercise. KC has some wonderful resources available for folks wanting to explore sobriety, and those are listed at the end of this post. I’m excited to participate in KC’s upcoming The New Sobriety online program which begins in October. Join us!
Sd: Hey, KC! So glad to be talking with you and learning all about you. Let’s start with your telling me a bit about your background and the work you are doing.
KC: I consider myself kind of a transformation catalyst for individuals as well as organizations. So on one side of my work, I do organizational consulting — mostly around optimizing work place culture. That’s what my corporate career prepared me to do. I was a sales director turned sales trainer for a company that grew very rapidly, and we won a lot of awards for culture. And when I say rapidly, it was very rapid. We grew from 40 people to 700 people in about eight years, and what was special about the company is that we won a lot of awards for culture. We took incredible care of the individuals and the company. I was really more curious about this mission of personal transformation while at a company that was itself transforming. So that’s kind of what got me on the path I was on with personal development.
When I was in Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project program back in 2012, I also started getting on the path as a yogi. I was more concerned with the meditation path. So somewhere between meditation and all of this hard corporate growth I was experiencing, that’s what kind of led me to what I’m doing today.
Sd: So tell me a little bit about how you came to do the work that you’re doing with sobriety and how that came to be.
KC: Yeah, sobriety has been interesting. I’m coming up on my five years of sobriety, and it was something I was always curious about or cautious about. I knew that because of my genetics that I was predisposed to drinking a lot, and I wanted to quit while I still had a conscious choice to do so on my own. So I decided to do that in 2012 when I was undergoing a year of pretty radical introspection.
I was part of the Good Life Project training which requires a lot of uncovering where I was living incongruently, and I was just like, you know what, I think I’m done drinking. I’m just tired of it. So I kind of flipped a switch on that. Didn’t use a program. I happen to live in the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous — Akron, Ohio. It’s really the coolest thing that Akron has ever contributed to the world. It has saved millions of lives. As I was going through my own change in my relationship with alcohol, I noticed I was inspiring a lot of my friends to quit as well. They would take a 30-day challenge of no drinks. It’s totally fun. I try to bring a good amount of levity to it because it is traditionally a very heavy topic. I wanted to bring a kind of a no judgment and fun atmosphere to it, and so my exploration around the new sobriety has been to discover what’s possible when we get drinking out of the way. I’m less concerned about people not drinking, and I’m more concerned with giving people an opportunity to embrace the virtue of sobriety which is to be in complete alignment with your circumstances, and because my experience has been that the more you’re open to that level of clarity in your life that a lot of positive things can unfold. Drinking is just one of the things that can dampen us, but it’s one I wanted to start with when working with people.
Sd: So the last five years has been an incredible journey! What impact has that had on your creativity specifically?
KC: It’s a great question. It’s hard to quantify sometimes because you know, I just work here, but alcohol was kind of a big anchor on my vibration as a whole. I was always a pretty intensely creative person. I always wrote and expressed myself and performed, but the alcohol for me created a lot of judgment –judgment of myself and judgment of others. I would judge my creative work way too early and maybe pull the plug on projects, versus that kind of muse that we want to have which is to let our creativity flow like we do as children. Drinking just kind of brought this gravity to it, but once it was removed, it was kind of like all bets are off. I can go forward untethered and sometimes that level of energy can be alarming for people I work with, including myself and my wife. I honestly think it has to deal with removing some of that self judgment and to open up more of what I consider more of what true creativity is meant to be. We’re supposed to be a divine vessel for something to express through us, and the more I meditate, and the more I get in tune with my guru’s teachings and the more sober, or sobriety I pursue (whether it’s not drinking or not eating sugar or being patient or any of the other ways to be sober), it tends to facilitate that process happening without me getting in the way of it.
Sd: This is so interesting. I created a diagram of creativity and numbing out because I have been trying to wrap my hands around how we unconsciously or consciously sabotage our creativity. I created a cybernetic positive feedback loop. It starts with no creating, which goes to pain, which goes to numbing out behavior, which goes to self loathing and a toxic body, which goes to pain and no creating. So it’s all sort of intertwined, and I think what’s really interesting about what you just said is that your sobriety has been so key to your releasing that judgmental shroud from your life. I don’t think I ever read or heard anybody talk about it in those terms, and it is such a liberating concept.
KC: Oh wow, thank you. I think that’s kind of coupled with the meditation. There’s a lot of time and introspection and thinking about what serves us and what doesn’t, and as I realize I was always a naturally very loving person as a child — we all are, you know, but I couldn’t get around this ability, or this talent I had for judging people and myself. Part of that is I’m a classic Type A personality, Virgo. I could use that judgment and discernment for good, or I could use it for evil. But what I noticed with alcohol, alcohol lies to us in a lot of ways and one of the ways that it lies to us is it says we need it to be fun, or we need it to cut loose or be free in some way, but what I found is an attempt to amplify the ego and it gives this sense of separation, this false sense of separation a voice, and the voice inside me was saying like, oh you’re better than this, you’re cooler than that, you’re more talented, you can cut corners. He’s too whatever the bullshit was, and once I removed that, humility can come through. Humility asks people to teach you because we’re all here to learn. It doesn’t assume that we have all these things figured out. What I realized after 22 years of drinking, quitting at 36 and the five years since, is that alcohol is nothing but a buzz kill for the soul. The soul is plenty amped. The soul is plenty wise and has limitless energy and power, and when you dampen it with booze, it’s only natural that it will take you to the dark side of it.
Sd: Tell me a little bit about the sobriety calculator. When I went through your findings, I reviewed the cost of drinking financially, as well as the cost in hours. When I read the data showing on average that the individuals in your survey sample lose 92 days of time per year due to drinking, I think my head just completely exploded.
KC: Yeah right.
Sd: And I went back and thought no, I didn’t read that right. So I went back a couple of times, and I thought that can’t be, that can’t be.
KC: We don’t want it to be. So let me tell you about the calculator. I didn’t know that anything like this existed, but we wanted to just create a really simple way for people to plug in a few numbers and see what the truth was around the money investment. So I was looking at it mostly from a monetary perspective, you know, my program happens to be paid. So anyway, going through this process, developing it, my friend Kate who helped me put it together, suggested we should focus on the consciousness piece. The consciousness piece is how much time we’re spending in an altered state. An altered state as defined by, for every drink you’re taking your body, you might not be feeling drunk or wasted, but your body is considered an altered state for your body for the next hour following that drink. Meaning that chemically once the booze hits your system, that’s one hour per drink in an altered state. So that’s how those numbers tend to add up really, really quickly. That’s what was most eye opening for me.
On average from our sample of 300 people, individuals were spending $4,500 per year on drinks. You can do a lot with that money. You could go on vacation. You could go for an extra degree, certification, whatever it is. But what really grabbed me and got the attention is that on average, 92 days of your life, out of a 365 day year, are spent in an altered state. Granted you could still be productive in that. I know plenty creative, prolific drunk people, but what I’m concerned with is that if I know from my first-hand experience that vibrationally it’s a lower yielding state to be in, I don’t have time to be in that state. And what my hypothesis is is that not a lot of other people have that time either.
Sd: Absolutely, and especially when I think that one of our go-to excuses that we pull out of our excuses bag, is I don’t have enough time to blah blah blah, whatever it is — meditate, exercise, write that book, whatever. I think it’s not only just the quantitative shock of the 92 days, but I think it’s also so interesting that you point out the quality of your vibrational field, your energetic state and what that ripple effect is either towards the good or the negative depending on how clean, clear your system is.
KC: Right, it’s really easy to dampen ourselves with bad habits. I think life is just a series of uncovering all of our bad habits, one by one, and trying our best to get a hold of them.
Sd: I’d love to hear a little bit about how meditation has changed your life.
KC: Meditation to me is the most profound habit that anybody can cultivate. I really found this profound shift when I installed a meditation habit of 15 minutes per day, seven days a week, no excuses. Today I meditated for 90 minutes, which was wonderful. But doing 15 minutes a day starts upgrading all your other habits over the course of time. So, it will make you look at drinking, and sugar, and running, and how you communicate with your partner, and how you talk to your co-workers. That’s what led to my sobriety. That’s what led to starting my own business, growing my family. I credit meditation with all of that.
Sd: When you’re in creative mode what is your ritual around that?
KC: This morning, it was 90 minutes of meditation, then family time, and a little bit of green juicing. Drank a juice, did my supplements, came downstairs and then did a lot of intentional journaling about what I’m going to create, just not only today, but the bigger picture in life. When it’s go time, and I open the computer, I tend to just rip it. I don’t second guess myself. I charge forth. I tend to take the attitude of the improv actor, which is even when somebody gives me some negative feedback, or a challenge, or something sucks, I say interesting, and I keep going. Whereas before when I was drinking and tired, I’d be a lot more fragile. Second guessing, searching for the words, searching for the answers, and not trusting myself to deliver. Now I tend to lean forward, that’s all part of the practice.
Sd: I think it’s so interesting that you have described what is essentially the opposite approach that most people take. You basically front load your day for clarity, health, spiritual connection, family connection, relationships, and relationship with self. Whereas I think most of us in the Western world load up on the muffin, and the coffee, and the cortisol, and then sit down to try to create something.
KC: It’s not that I’ve conquered all those demons. I mean coffee is something that comes in and out of my life depending on the time of year, and it’s usually something I give up during the new sobriety program. I tell my participants that I’m willing to give something up. I think next time, I’m going to totally give up sugar, which is going to be difficult for me. I’ve always found if you’re willing to be brave and optimize your time for maximum inspiration and connection, when it comes time to create, you’re just more likely to get the hell out of your own way.
Sd: I cannot tell you how much I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk with me and share your story. You have given me tons to think about with regard to how numbing choices erode our divine connection to our energy and our creativity. There is so much here to help people get out of pain and move into peace. Thank you again!
Kristoffer Carter (“KC”) is a Personal Transformation Catalyst for individuals, and a Culture + Growth Strategist for organizations. He is the creator of The New Sobriety™, a global community + 30-Day No Drinking challenge that explores a joyous life beyond “The Drinks”. KC left his corporate career building award-winning culture to help other companies optimize their workplace to drive business objectives. A kriyaban yogi, father of 3, and singer/songwriter, KC has also helped thousands create a life-changing meditation habit. You can find his Full-Life Integration™ Manifesto, and learn more about his retreats and programs at ThisEpicLife.com.
Registration is Now Open for The New Sobriety™ 30-Day No-Drinking Challenge.
Recommended: KC’s 12 Shocking Upgrades Sans Booze