40 acts: an alternative to giving things up for Lent

A post from our Project Manager @rosiehopes

Whether you’re a Christian or not, it’s hard to avoid conversations about Lent. What are you giving up? Chocolate, alcohol, netflix? It’s the new water-cooler chat.

I’m a godless heathen, but I’ve done Lent in the past. I once gave up meat for 40 days as a sort of trial run of being a vegetarian and I ate so many interesting, tasty meals that I’ve never gone back. It was a good choice.

But there is something about the obsession with giving things up, especially so soon after New Year and all the quitting that comes with it, that is a bit joyless. It’s hard enough to get through the Scottish winter without constantly denying ourselves the things that give us pleasure.

I get that my lack of faith probably means that I don’t really understand the spiritual side of things, but a few friends who are Christians have said the same. In fact, they’ve said that the idea of giving up sugar to lose weight is about as far from the intended concept of Lent that you can get. Especially if you eat your own weight in creme eggs when Easter rolls around.

So, I was really interested to see an idea that flipped Lent on its head. Instead of encouraging self-denial, @40acts focuses on doing something kind every day for 40 days. There are lots of interesting ideas from simple things like cleaning up after someone else, to sharing food with a person who is lonely. And I’m really interested to see how chocolate Tuesday is going to pan out.

They call it a challenge- and it is. This is definitely no easy option for people who don’t want to give something up.

What I found really interesting is how similar this looks to the guidance on wellbeing. It’s about being kind to yourself and others. It’s about being connected with your community. It’s about forming good habits. It’s about taking small steps every day.

And unlike giving something up, it doesn’t really matter if you “slip up”. If you don’t complete a challenge every day, even if you only achieve one or two of these things, you’ve still made a difference.

Are you doing Lent this year? Would you rather give something up or try a  challenge like this?



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