Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the all-you-can-eat buffet of calories, as well as any bad habits we’ve been clinging to. This is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Today many of us fast, abstain from meat, get ashes crossed on our foreheads and kick off a season of reflection and a spring-cleaning of the mind and soul.
A bit of trivia: Lent is 40 days, if you subtract the six Sundays between now and Easter. Just long enough to wean ourselves from a bad habit or develop a good habit. I have to admit, I’ve been a little overly ambitious some years with little to show for it. One year I pledged to give up chocolate. That didn’t last long. One year I tried to give up coffee. That effort bit the dust even more quickly than the chocolate fast. My efforts to avoid caffeine really turn out to be more of a penance for everyone around me anyway, since I get pretty cranky without my coffee. I’ve given up putting milk in my coffee before. But honestly, that seemed pretty lame as “sacrifices” go.
Other things that sound like a good thing to give up, but I know I’ll never stick with, include Facebook and my favorite TV show. One year I didn’t watch my fave TV program during Lent. But then I binge watched it after Easter. So, that wasn’t really so much a giving up as a delayed gratification. It was still interjecting a bit of discipline, I suppose.
I admire the people who make grand gestures for Lent. The ones who completely give up watching television for more than five weeks. The people who do a complete bread and water fast one or two days a week – stuff like that. In fact, I maybe even harbor a tiny bit of envy toward people like this. But, I’ve found I have more success adding a good work or two, rather than trying to give up my bad habits.
It’s actually bad form to brag about what we’re doing for Lent. So I’ve got a couple of things on my list I’m not going to mention. But I am going to share one thing, by way of suggestion, in case anyone is still trying to decide on something. I’m going to try to perform one small kindness every day during Lent. This will help me become a better person and make the world a little bit nicer place to live in at the same time.
And I’m going to resist the temptation to tell anyone about my specific little acts of kindness, and just keep them to myself. In fact, as often as possible, I’ll try to arrange it so even the person I’m performing the kindness for doesn’t know who it came from. An extra dose of humility couldn’t hurt me any.
Readers, have you ever had any luck giving up a bad habit, during Lent or otherwise? What’s a good habit you’d like to develop? Please share in comments.