I guess today is Ash Wednesday! Christian readers will note that this means today is the start of Lent, which is the season of 40 days (plus 6 sundays because they “don’t count” or something; thus 46 days) before Easter.
Christian readers might also take this opportunity to give up something for Lent, as a bit of a sacrifice while we prepare to see Jesus Friggin' Christ rise from the friggin' dead! And also not eat meat on Fridays, although fish is okay because the pope said so once upon a time. Young Dan Tasse would take this opportunity to quite enjoy Fridays because it meant cheese pizza! (modern readers are urged not to miss the spirit of the law.)
Limburgers (and a lot of people worldwide) might take the opportunity to have a hangover today, as it’s the day after five days (whoa) of Carnival. Take down the Mooswief n’at.
Modern lapsed Christians who are searching for the best life possible, however, might take this opportunity to do some life-hacking. The traditional Christian deal is to “give something up for Lent”, which sometimes sounds like “sacrifice something and suffer for a while so God will smile upon you,” but I offer you another viewpoint: you can make any one positive change in your life. 46 days is a perfect amount of time to start a habit. Whatever it is, start it now, and by Easter, it’ll be second nature. Furthermore, you’ll have a billion people worldwide starting their good habits with you.
But let’s do this right! Lay down the law so you can follow it. For example, I’m giving up sweets. I must first define “sweets”, or else I will cut corners everywhere… I’d like to say “no refined sugar”, as one of my coworkers does (this is badass), but then I’d have to stop cooking Japanese, as everything has a little sugar or mirin or something. So how about this: no more than trace amounts of refined sugars. (okay, “trace” is still not defined, but let’s not be too picky here.) And I’m going to say “no breaks”, although sometimes Christians run the “you can have this thing you’re giving up on Sundays because they don’t count” rule. It’s up to you: I know that I’ll do better by just drawing a hard line, but if you know that you do better when you can allow yourself one sweet a week (or whatever), that’s fine; do what works for you. Don’t phrase it like “I’ll cheat once a week” or “I’ll break the rules once a week”, though, as this terminology will make you feel like you’re failing.
And keep it up after Easter! I’m not advocating temporary asceticism here, because that’s temporary. Do something that you’ll be proud to continue. I think after Easter I’ll allow myself one sweet per week, because birthday cake and stuff.
Rock on, and start something new! Your habits are your life, make them good. I invite you to start one along with me; we can check in however often, if you’d like, and I’ll keep you honest. (and please, do the same for me.)
Jessica O. - Feb 2, 2010
I love that - your habits are your life. I didn’t make it for the beginning of lent, but as of now, I’m starting the no processed sugar with you. I’m so excited that you’re doing this. Let’s keep each other updated. xo
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