I hope you had as happy an Easter as I did. While I don’t necessarily believe in the Easter holiday itself, I do believe in the tradition of celebrating with friends and/or family. So that’s exactly what Mr. Man and I did.
Easter also marks the end of Lent, the 40-day period (technically 46 because Sundays are “cheat” days) of fasting, moderation, spiritual discipline and self-denial. Typically Christians pick something they really enjoy to sacrifice for Lent.
Ironically, it was only once I embraced my agnosticism that I was able to fully appreciate Lent and really make a committed effort to it. Last year was my first successful Lent when I gave up meat and red wine.
This year, I upped the ante and gave up all alcohol.
For some people, this might not be much of a sacrifice. For me, however, this was a sacrifice of Biblical proportions (pun intended). Granted, it can be argued as to whether I completed this year’s Lent successfully, but I’ll save that for next time as well as what I learned from this year’s experience.
Get a Happiness High
No matter what your religion, I encourage you to participate in Lent. If you successfully achieve your goal of abstaining from whatever you’ve denied yourself for 40 to 46 days, then you will be rewarded with a happiness boost unparallel to any other delight.
The hedonic treadmill effect partially explains our need for more, more, more. When horrible war conditions occur, we can adapt to that as the new normal, which benefits and protects our mental health.
However, the opposite is also true.
When we land a new promotion, buy a new car or win a prize, we adapt to the amazing, positive new normal just as quickly. Sure, we get a short happiness burst when we initially make the purchase or start the new job, but we quickly adjust and are on to the next new desire.
So when you participate in Lent and “deny yourself something, your pleasure in it will be re-activated when the denial stops,” as Gretchen explains.
This explains why the Easter Sunday mimosas were the most delicious ones I’ve ever tasted and why my first glass of red wine last night tasted like sugar plum fairies dancing on my tongue.
Did you have a successful Lent this year? If you didn’t participate, how do you stay off the hedonic treadmill?
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