Have you recently noticed an increased desire to “spring clean” your life? It’s a natural phenomenon people experience this time of year. Whether it is cleaning out the junk in your closet or the junk in your life, the newness of spring makes us want to spruce things up. Even if you don’t normally honor the Lent season, read on to see how this traditional season can improve your life.

For Christians, Lent is the preparation for the Christian celebration of Easter. It lasts about six weeks and is used as a time for Christians to draw closer to God by removing something that might be distracting them from their relationship with God. Christian or not, many people use this time of year to reprieve themselves of something that may be inundating their life: fatty foods, social media, TV, etc.

In college my girlfriends and I would always try to give up chocolate, sweets, beer, Facebook, or whatever we thought was getting in our way at the time. Frankly, we always failed because we were doing it for all the wrong reasons. Lent is not about losing weight, or testing your mental strength, but a time to lay aside an aspect of life that may be getting in the way of you and God, and, if you are not a Christian, something that is getting in the way of you living to your full potential. Fasting can open windows of time for creativity, reflection and growth.

If you are looking for something to give up during this season or for a way to spring clean your life, here are a few ideas:

  • Watching unnecessary amounts of TV: It is easy to get home from work or school and plop in front of the machine that can suck you in for hours. Before you know it, you have watched 5 episodes of House of Cards or The Big Bang Theory. During the next 6 weeks, just turn it off. Find a good book, a pen if you like to write or even or even a puzzle. Engage your brain in new ways, opening it up for more positive thinking and creativity. After a few weeks you probably won’t even miss it and it might be easier to watch less after Lent is over.
  • Chocolate/Sweets/Chips/Soda: Whatever your weakness may be, cut it out. Every time you crave it, eat something different—carrots, yogurt or cereal. Remember, don’t do this to lose weight, but to promote healthy energy that leads to positive thinking. You are what you eat, right?
  • Obsessive cell phone browsing: If you are like me, it is easy to reach to your iPhone every time you have a moment of nothing. In the grocery line—what’s going on in the Twitterverse? At a stop light (oops….) anything new on Facebook? Commercial during TV show—time to find some new recipes on Pinterest. Can’t get to sleep—time for endless CandyCrush. The list goes on and on. Without even realizing it, we are training our brains to be in constant motion—never allowing for moments of reflection or creative thinking. Sure, things online can inspire you, but too often we are thriving on others’ ideas and lives instead of creating our own. If this is what you choose to give up, when you are tempted to reach to your phone for endless browsing, stop and just observe what is around you. Start a conversation in the grocery line, pay attention to the road, read a book during commercials, and reflect on your day before bed.
  • Coffee: Jokes. I would not suggest such a thing.
  • Trash talk: This, my friends, is much easier said than done. We all like to think we are positive people who say positive things, but I challenge you to watch yourself today. Even if you aren’t talking bad about others, there is a good chance you will say something negative about yourself, the weather (especially if you live in place experiencing endless winter) or anything else that is annoying you. Instead of bringing up problems, try to provide solutions. Instead of talking bad about someone, compliment someone else. I’m not suggesting you lie, but redirect your thoughts to positive things. If you hate the weather, well, suck it up and think warm thoughts (or watch an episode of House Hunters International in a warm destination—oh wait, we are trying to watch less TV). Complaining never gets us anywhere, and trash talk only hurts others.

Remember if you try to give something up and then relapse, don’t sweat it. This isn’t about beating yourself up, but about reducing unnecessary things in your life to make room for positive things.

What are you giving up for Lent? Share with us in our comments section below.