(Note: Because this post is about Lent, this is a religion oriented post. I tried to keep it from being too-overtly religious and to keep the focus, but I don’t want to alienate anyone because of this post!)
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday (and the beginning of Lent) and my school held a giant mass in a beautiful field on campus. The weather was beautiful– the sun was shining and the wind was blowing so it was the perfect combination of not too hot and not too cold. And me? I was inside taking organic chemistry notes and wondering when the world would I ever need to know Bromine and Chlorine reactions as a pediatrician.
Let me just start this off by saying: I’m not a very religious person. I respect people who are– in fact, I actually really admire you all– but it’s just not for me. I grew up as a Catholic and still attend church on a not-so-regular basis, but I currently don’t consider myself to be particularly religious. That being said, growing up with Lent, I admire and respect it and the story behind it.
So, this year, I’m participating in Lent.
Why I Love the Idea of Lent
The concept behind Lent is something I wish everyone can get by. Religious reasons aside, I think the 40 day period of Lent really teaches us about ourselves and forces us to really think about our lifestyles.
Giving something up for that long of a time promotes strength and willpower.
It allows us to see what’s fundamentally important to us and, even if we make a mistake, allows us to learn to forgive ourselves. In my opinion, by giving up something that’s inherently important to you but negative in your life– an addiction to sweets, drinking, and the likes– teaches us about the strength of the human mind.
It also means sacrifice. There are things in our lives that we think we can’t give up. Be it social media, certain foods, and certain habits. Even if it’s not essentially self-destructive, Lent teaches you the importance and significance behind sacrifice.
From my own experience, it’s been difficult to go even a week giving something important up. There’s always something that gets in the way. I’m excited to see what the period brings to my life in terms of not only spirituality but personal growth.
What I’m Giving Up
To put it bluntly, because there’s honestly no other way to say this, I’m giving up being a bitch.
I don’t think I’m a particularly mean spirited person, but I do think that I definitely have some bad habits that prevent me from being the best person I can be. And that’s what life’s all about, right? Being the best version of you.
Habits I Want to Stop:
- Disrespecting people
- Being selfish
- Talking behind people’s backs
I decided to give up all these mean-spirited actions I’ve been doing because, well, they’re not good habits to have. They’re not conducive to anything besides driving a wedge between yourself and others. I’ve started to notice that I spent more time gossiping and complaining than I did volunteering or making people feel good about their lives.
This year, I told myself to embrace the “good vibes” mentality: surround yourself with good vibes and only exude good vibes. But I’ve been sinking back into my old habits of just being a horrible person. My goal is to stick to this for the next 40 days.
And, because no one’s perfect, I will be writing a not every time I slip up. That way, by the end of Lent, I can quantify how I did.
(I’m also giving up red meat completely, but I’ve been doing that for a while now so it’s not as important haha.)
What I Want to Gain
I hope to end the Lent period a better person. Lately, I haven’t been treating myself well. I was viewing myself in a negative light that I only starting to get rid of a couple weeks ago. I’m hoping that, by the end of Lent, I can stop these negative behaviors and focus on the good.
Habits I Want to Pick Up:
- Letting petty things go
- Not being ashamed of my feelings
- Open communication
- Being kind to people
- Thinking before I speak
Essentially, I want to begin to have unconditional positive regard for others. In one of my psychology classes, I learned that the best relationships involve unconditional positive regard. It means accepting and respecting others as they are without judgement or evaluation.
I want to have that with others. I want to begin to accept others even if I’m not their biggest fan. As human beings, we tend to form us vs. them viewpoints, and I want to get rid of that. I want to be able to be able to accept someone and not feel the need to belittle them even if I’m not their biggest fan.
I also want to be okay with my emotions. The biggest drawback in society, in my opinion, is that we tend to stifle our feelings and hide them away if they’re unfavorable. When someone upsets us, we’ll just let it slide and then complain to someone else later. I think it would be good to be more open if someone said something that particularly hurt you (of course, as long as you’re not being mean-spirited about it).
What are you doing for Lent?
Do you celebrate the occasion? I know this is a very religion-oriented post, so I don’t want to alienate anyone who doesn’t observe Lent.
If you do, what are you giving up for Lent?
And, if you don’t, what are some habits you wish you could give up?