Break, and make, habits this Lent

Chances are, you’ve already picked something to give up for Lent. But for those of you that haven’t, listen up. This year, rather than go back to your usual sacrifices of chocolate or Facebook, use Lent as an opportunity to start a new habit.

Instead of trying to give up something you enjoy, and will probably indulge in at least once during Lent, why not take the time to do something better for yourself, your family or the environment?

The idea behind Lent is to “fast,” or give up something for 40 days; ideally cutting out distractions and refocusing on what’s most important in your life. In our modern age, Lent has developed into a period where people give up some sort of vice during its span.

This idea of “giving up” something can easily be applied to giving up something negative in your life, and thereby gaining something that will stay with you long after Lent is over.

It doesn’t have to be a big change; you could decide to give up buying bottled water in exchange for reusable water bottles, thereby lessening your environmental footprint. Or maybe you’ve been struggling to quit smoking, and Lent is the perfect opportunity to give it another shot.

Even trying to curb your judgmental instincts, or any other negative outlooks could be your path to a more effective Lent experience.

The beauty of this kind of “fast” is that what you learn during your 40 days can contribute to your lasting health and happiness, but you’re still stepping out of your comfort zone to give up something that is currently a part of your life.

The point is that Lent doesn’t have to be a burden, and you don’t have to give up something that is important to your daily life. Instead, you can give up something that you might not even miss, and ultimately develop healthier habits in the process.

Amanda Wood is a senior majoring in ecosystem science and policy.