Lent is a beautiful time for reflection and an opportunity after the New Year to try to do better. While observant Christians lead the way during the season of Lent, many non-observant followers are beginning to take part in the "challenge" of making a 40-day goal. Whether you're looking to give something up or looking to add something to your life, here is a list of 40 things to make your Lent season more fulfilling.
40 Ideas for a More Meaningful Lent
1. Sweets. This is one of the more popular things to give up during lent. Everybody loves sugar, but we certainly don’t need it.
2. Meat. If you’re Catholic, you’re already giving up meat (except fish) on Fridays. Have you considered giving up meat for the entire 40 days of Lent?
3. Gossiping. It’s toxic, yet addicting. Everyone wants to know the latest scoop, but as I often say, if the person doesn’t tell me the news themselves, they probably don’t want me to know.
4. Shopping. No, not grocery shopping, but excessive and frivolous shopping. Whether it’s in-store or online, your bank account will be better off for it.
5. Pinterest. Do you use Pinterest for dinner ideas? Try planning a 40 day Lent menu in advance and print off your recipes.
6. Skipping Church. The season leading up to Easter is the best time to renew your commitments and attend church, as you reflect on the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
7. Fast food. It’s really bad for you, but I don’t have to tell you that. Give it up. If you depend on it for a quick dinner while you’re bussing kids around to their evening activities, consider preparing sandwiches or finger foods before you leave the house.
8. Television. Instead, use this time to read a book, your scriptures, write in your journal, or bond with your children.
9. Make-up. You’re beautiful without it.
10. Caffeine. Whether it’s coffee, tea, or your favorite caffeinated soda, just give it up. It’s an addictive chemical and your body will thank you (after you go through a dreadful period of withdrawals).
11. Social networking. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. It’s a good thing to get away for a while and self-reflect.
12. Alcohol. If you consume alcohol regularly, try giving it up for 40 days. Forget that cold beer or glass of wine. You don’t need it.
13. Cheese. It’s addicting and full of cholesterol. Give your heart a break by taking a break from cheese.
14. Fried foods. Skip the grease and ask for the grilled option at restaurants instead. Skip the fries and order a baked potato. Put the bag of potato chips down.
15. Go plant-based. Give up all meat, cheese, eggs, milk, honey, and any other animal products.
16. The car radio. Do you depend on it during your daily commute? Try giving it up. It’s a great time to reflect if you’re by yourself. It’s also a great time to have those much needed conversations with your children.
17. Read all four Gospels. Has it been awhile since you’ve paid Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John a visit? Study the life of our Savior from beginning to end. It will make celebrating Easter that much more meaningful.
18. Perform a daily act of love. Read your child a story after a busy day. Buy your wife flowers. Prepare your husbands favorite meal. Buy a co-worker their favorite snack. Call or text a friend you haven’t heard from lately. Give a homeless person a gift card to the nearest restaurant for a nice, warm meal. Bake a special treat for your neighbor. The options are endless.
19. Give one thing away, every day. Whether it is an article of clothing, a pair of shoes, a book, or a kitchen appliance you no longer use. It can go to someone who needs it while also de-cluttering your home.
20. Don’t waste time. Put down the smartphone and put in a load of laundry. Turn off the TV and clean the kitchen cabinets. Put away the book and clean the toilets. Vacuum the stairs. Clean the windows. Get an early start on dinner.
21. Stop complaining. Has your friend once again left you out of a recent Girl’s Night Out? Let it go. Is Trump “not your President”? (Oh, yes he is.) Did your husband leave his dirty socks on the floor again? Probably. But you don’t need to harp on it. It gets old. You’ll be happier if you make it a point to stop complaining.
22. Eat to sustain life, not for enjoyment. Keep your meals simple, healthy, and basic. Whole grain toast or oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. Salad or sandwiches for lunch. Soup or beans and rice for dinner. Remember to nourish your body, but don’t worry about being fancy with it.
23. Spend an hour in complete silence. Set the kitchen timer and turn off all electronics, including your phone, for an entire hour. Use this time to pray, meditate, study the scriptures, or snuggle and read with your children.
24. Don’t eat out. Make it a point to eat every meal at home (or pack a home-lunch).
25. Reading the news. While you may come across a feel-good story now and then, most of the news stories of today can leave us angry, frustrated, or sad. Staying away from things that bring out negative emotions can improve your overall mood and well-being.
26. Zone clean. Complete an entire zone in your home each day (except for Sundays). You’ll have to plan a rotating schedule, and if you keep it up it will only get easier as you go along. By Easter, your home should be immaculate.
27. Read one story to your child each day. In a busy world, most children don’t get even one story read to them. Make it a point to do this, whether at bedtime, or as soon as they get home from school.
28. Family prayers. If you already do this, great! If you don’t, make it a point before bedtime to gather with your family, humbly kneel, and thank Heavenly Father for all that has been given, ask Him for help, and focus on the spiritual needs of your family.
29. Yelling. Whether in anger or out of convenience, just stop. If you’re calling for a child in your home, get up instead and seek them out. If your child or spouse pushes your very last button, don’t explode. Breathe.
30. Video games, computer games, or games on your phone. All of these are taking away precious time spent with those you love.
31. Being late. Make a change in your life and plan to arrive early wherever you go. Besides, being late is just plain rude.
32. Checking your bank account or stock portfolio. It’s good to keep track of your money, especially if you live paycheck-to-paycheck, but you don’t need to obsess over it daily.
33. Your smartphone. I’m not saying get rid of it. Instead, leave your phone in the kitchen at night. Use it strictly for phone calls. Don’t open any of the apps on your phone.
34. Name brands. Sure, that name brand toilet paper is so much better, but try saving money and giving it up for 40 days. Do you love your “freshly squeezed orange juice” brands? You’re paying a premium for that. Buy the cheaper store brand.
35. Dating. If you’re single, try giving up dating. Focus on yourself during this time. Make a list of the qualities you desire in a future spouse. After Lent, date only those who are up to your standards.
36. Soda. I know I mentioned already that giving up caffeinated soda would be a great idea, but soda in general is bad for you. Your body doesn’t need it.
37. Procrastination. Have you been meaning to get something done but have failed to make the time to do it? Now’s your chance.
38. White bread. Try switching to whole grains. And speaking of bread…
39. Eat only homemade bread. I know you love the convenience of store-bought bread, but who can deny the heavenly scent and flavor of homemade bread? It’s also not full of preservatives.
40. Eat a fruit trio daily. Apple-banana-orange. Packed with vitamins and nutrients, it’ll help you to stay healthy for the remainder of the cold and flu season.