Lent is a Christian festival comprising the 40 days leading up to Easter, whereby people give up luxuries (it used to be rich food that people gave up, and often still is something along those lines), in respect of Jesus, who fasted for 40 days and nights in the desert.
It is also still traditionally a time for spring cleaning the home. The deprivation is a time of reflecting on what we do that’s right or wrong, and exercising self-discipline.
As with New Year’s Resolutions, anything that makes people look at themselves and their actions and change them for the better has got to be a good thing.
The difference being that whilst at New Year statements to give up or start something new can be pretty generalised, Lent is a fixed amount of time; beginning Ash Wednesday (the day after Shrove Tuesday) and ending at Easter.
It’s been proven that when we make resolutions with specific and fixed goals and terms, we are more likely to stick to them, and that’s why I think people are more successful at sticking to their ‘giving up’ over Lent than they are in the New Year – because they know it’s not forever.
I think so. If you were to say to yourself “I will never eat chocolate cake ever again”, how likely do you think you would be to honour that statement, for the rest of your life?
How about “I will not eat chocolate cake for 40 days”. Now THAT sounds doable. Just.
What about the rest of the year? How about….
“I will only eat cake on the weekend”.
“I will only eat cake once a week”.
“I will eat cake up to three times a week, but only have two mouthfuls each time”.
Choose which you think will work for you, or think up your own – there are endless variations on this theme that can be applied to whatever your ‘weakness’ is. If it doesn’t work, try a different one.
Sometimes abstaining completely, but temporarily, works best for people; if there’s no choice, there’s no internal debate, and the answer is simple, you don’t eat it, and if that works for you then fine. Many people find that temporarily abstaining from something is all they needed to break the habit, and they find that after 40 days they didn’t miss it so much after all, and continue their new habits for much longer.
Of course at Easter those things called Easter Eggs have a habit of swaying even the most strong willed of us somewhat……..only once a year right?!
What are you giving up for Lent? What steps are you taking to make sure you stick to it? Post your ideas in the comments below or over on the Facebook Page!