Today starts the first day of Lent and while I wrote about this same topic back when I launched my blog in 2012, I thought it was worth a revisit.
Lent, if you don’t know, is the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Wikipedia notes that Lent is traditionally marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance, (regret for and amending of our sins) for 40 days. Many who observe Lent may fast or give up favorite things like chocolates, alcohol or swearing, others may attend church services more regularly to renew their faith.
While not catholic, I still see the value in re-accessing your life and actions from time to time. At Lent, I tend toward “adding things” or perhaps better said, improving myself and how I treat and interact with others vs. giving up a luxury item. So I take a more Giving Back vs. Giving Up approach. Plus I might add, this different take, was prompted by my minister a few years ago, lest you see this as too self-indulgent.
Want to consider this approach? Here are some things I’ve done:
- Increase my volunteer efforts during this time
There is always someone out there that can use your help. Rather than only make a monetary donation, why not share your time and talents.
- Appreciating the things that I have in my life vs. the things that I do not
We all face personal challenges – some that may seem less important to others, but can feel monumental to us in the moment. I’m continuously trying to ascertain if it is a need or a want. More often that not, it’s a “want.” I don’t really need the item, I just want it. So especially at this time of year, I try to eliminate the “wants” and focus on the true needs.
- Apologizing or Taking Responsibility
I don’t know anyone who is great at apologies, but it’s really something that you should be able to do. We all make mistakes and at times hurt other people’s feelings. I think one of the best qualites you can have is to be able to own up to your mistakes, and say, “I’m sorry.”
- Practice Appreciation
I do try to write as many thank you notes as I can, and say thank you when someone has helped me out. It’s ALWAYS the right thing to do. 🙂
- Practice Random Acts of Kindness
While I recently talked about RAOK Week I do try to practice this all year long. Try adding change to an expiring meter, hold the door open for someone else, or simply tell someone how nice they look.
Maybe this is too much of a modern twist on the whole Lenten season for you or you think I’m missing the point. I’m just not sure I see the value in simply taking away/giving up my favorite foods for 40 days when I know that I can have them again in April. Perhaps this true appreciation and the act of helping is a better way to look at this time of year, at least for me. I know it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in making my community and my world a better place. And hey, if I can continue to do these things beyond the allocated 40 days, all the better.