Do something nice for yourself every day

March 3, 2022

Here’s a radical idea for Lent: Don’t give anything up. Instead, add something positive to your life every day. It doesn’t have to be big. You could grab a bunch of grocery store daffodils. Or curl up with a comforting book for half an hour.

It’s been a tough two years. Most of the clergy I coach nowadays are exhausted. So are their laypeople. You’ve already sacrificed a lot, especially in your connections with other people. Don’t make it harder on yourself by giving up chocolate too.

Even if you’ve never done a traditional Lenten practice, consider taking this one on. Add a daily treat to your life as a spiritual practice. If this seems counterintuitive, remember that God loves you as much as anyone else. You might use these daily gifts to yourself as an opportunity to intentionally receive God’s love.

Here’s a radical idea for Lent: Don’t give anything up. Instead, add something positive to your life every day.

Some years ago after a difficult year, my Lenten practice was giving myself a daily treat. I didn’t feel up to giving up something. I felt a little guilty about treating myself for Lent. I thought that’s not what Lent is supposed to be about. However, as I prayerfully reflected on the idea, it drew me in. And as I walked through Lent that year, treating myself every day was a tiny thrill.

Here are 20 ideas. Some of them cost money, though not much, and over half of them are free.

1. Call your best friend.

2. Spend extra time with your pet.

3. Laugh for 10 seconds.

4. Buy flowers for yourself.

5. Sit down for 5 minutes.

6. Walk around the block.

7. Eat one cookie. Or buy an ice cream cone.

8. Hug someone.

9. Read a favorite poem.

10. Watch a sports highlights video.

11. Read a funny comic, old or new. Or find Looney Tunes on YouTube.

12. Watch one episode of your favorite new or old sitcom.

13. Get takeout from your favorite restaurant.

14. Look at photos of a great vacation.

15. Rent a streaming new-release movie.

16. Buy or make a childhood favorite treat. (I still love chocolate frosting on graham crackers.)

17. Spend half an hour in a local park.

18. Draw a picture.

19. Dig in the garden for 10 minutes.

20. Buy a beautiful card and mail it to yourself.

Traditionally, you can take a break from your Lenten practice on Sundays. In this case, I recommend you keep it up even on Sunday. Or, give yourself a bigger treat on Sunday. Make it a spiritual exercise by intentionally noticing what you are doing and fully enjoying it.

The year I started this Lenten practice, I felt readier than ever for my Easter celebration. I’ve found meaning in giving things up, whether chocolate, coffee, or recreational reading. However, this practice of self-nurturing was as spiritually valuable as any of my other Lenten observances. I’m doing it again this year.

Try this: Make your own list of 20 small things that could give you joy. Do them each twice, and there’s your 40 days of Lent. Then fully celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers to do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations, and online resources.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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