So You're Considering Giving Up chocolate for Lent?
The Lenton custom of giving-up or taking-up some aspects of life in order to better oneself is beautiful and reaches back 1,696 years ago, to the First Council of Nicaea. Whenever we take part in a tradition stretching so far into the distant past and certainly off into the unrealized future, there is a unifying element to be found, if we will take it. This practice runs through our human experience, linking people of far distant generations, ethnicities, geographies and circumstances, and points us all towards the betterment of ourselves and our world.
Whether you’re religious or just trying to be intentional about how you live, a 40 day focus on “betterment” is an idea we can all be excited about.
But is giving up chocolate the best option in a world gone wild?
Okay. Bear with me. I’ll make the case and then you can chuff me off.
Firstly, enjoying (and I mean REALLY enjoying) an excellently crafted piece (or pieces) of chocolate is one of the most innocent ways to trigger those beautifully wondrous neurotransmitters; dopamine and serotonin. With all the fear and anxiety trying to force its way into our brains, it’s very much acceptable, if not mandatory, to have chocolate in your emotional health toolbox.
Oh, so you’re not sure you need that? Well, it’s statistically proven that 200% of everyone is getting on each other’s nerves right now. Just ask the five people closest to you, “am I going insane?” Your welcome. #facts
Secondly, is chocolate actually at the heart of whatever issue you’re trying to get at or is it just the easy answer to what you’ll change about yourself? In past years, amongst those who have participated in Lent, “giving up chocolate” has been the number one answer. That’s great. But what is that actually doing of any meaning or consequence in the grand scheme as we push our world towards deeper compassion and fulfillment?
Thirdly, here’s an equation to ponder. Most people give up chocolate for Lent, then 2020 happened. It’s not working people! I’m sorry. It’s just science.
Whether you’re still dead set on giving up chocolate or you’re pondering a more expansive option, here are a few suggestions that will actually impact the trajectory of your life and those around you.
Stephan Covey’s lightning bolt to the brain has been possibly the most influential book within our organization. Rather than a book of “tricks and tips”, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People guides the reader into an ever deepening understanding of our personal perspectives and cultivated attitudes. If you are AT ALL interested in becoming a more intentional and effective person, here is your starting point.
An important heads up! For most people, the first short bit of this read feels sort of like a jigsaw puzzle, causing some to feel like they missed the week of chemistry in which moles were introduced. STICK WITH IT! Like a Charles Dickens novel, everything suddenly slides into place and the rest of the book is smooth sailing to highly effective living!
Not a big reader? Audiobooks are a thing.
2. Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness
In April of 2020, when we were all figuring out creative ways to turn doorknobs without touching a single place where anyone else had EVER touched it, I found myself wandering into a doctors office. You may have noticed it as well, but during those first months of that strange dystopian-reality, common courtesy and any semblance of kindness had withered and died.
Anyway, I was sitting in the waiting room, all by my lonesome, when an elderly woman emerged from the office door. Behind a walker, she made her slow way towards the exit; hunched with age, her mask sliding up and making it hard for her to see through her crooked glasses. Shamefully, I hesitated, wondering if she might be angry if I came too close but after a moment, I stood, opened the exit door and waited for her to pass through. But she stopped and with tears in her eyes, earnestly thanked me, telling me that no one was willing to hold doors anymore.
We might not still be in a place where holding doors is a supernatural occurrence, but I think we could all agree that we’re suffering from a deficit of kindness. Perhaps one of the simplest ways to influence the world for good, would be to spend these 40 days of Lent cultivating a contagiously joyful bearing.
Now this doesn’t mean going around laughing at nothing like a psychopath, but an earnest “hello” to the man pushing carts, a “how are you?” to the person checking you out, or smile and wave to the person who accidentally cut you off. Times of great uncertainty are times of great opportunity, if we keep our eyes on each other.
3. Donate to Your Local Food Pantry or charity
Any time you care for yourself by purchasing groceries, care for other members of your local community. Even $1 per trip could add up to multiple meals of nourishment for a family in desperate need.
4. Write Letters of Affirmation
Most children recognize there is something gloriously exciting about receiving mail. But when we become grownups, we put the ways of childhood behind us, and pretend we don’t like receiving mail. (Is that why your recycling is 80% Amazon boxes?) So we all love receiving mail. We, as humans, also deeply crave affirmation.
Consider the profound impact if, over the next 40 days, you were to commit to writing and sending letters of affirmation or gratitude to individuals in your life. Whether they are from your distant past, the immediate present or (if you get real creative) the remote future, people need YOU to say what ONLY YOU can say about THEM.
Break it down! 1 letter every 10 days or 10 letters every 4 days. Make it achievable and change an individual's world.
Have you ever observed Lent in an outside-the-box way? How do you plan to celebrate the tradition of Lent in the midst of a global pandemic? Let us know in the comments below!
Keep your friends close. Keep your chocolate closer.
Production and Marketing Manager
Fifth generation candy maker.
Well said. I always give up baking for lent. It’s a detox for the body and mind. Hard to commit to it. But Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. I can do this with the Grace of God.
I am still gifting chocolate and checking out Easter CANDY.
I am Jewish and a big fan of your chocolate. It is possible to make the world a better place AND eat chocolate. Nice approach. And … Chocolate makes the world a better place.
Candy Man, you have a beautiful and caring heart. We healthy people should give of ourselves… so during Lent I will send notes to our church people, who are in nursing homes, letting them know they are thought of and prayed for.
I’ve started early. The Fudge Shoppe is helping. I purchased 4 bags of milk chocolate hearts during your pre Valentines sale a few weeks ago. I pass out hearts to my coworkers to make everyone smile.
As I was thinking about your post, I thought that your suggestions were spot on. Be compassionate. Be thoughtful. Be helpful. Be kind. Be intentional. We can all be the Good Samaritan along life’s highway if we put others before ourselves.
Well done. However, skip the chocolate for the 40 days and donate the $$$$’s to a charity. Love the chocolate covered raspberries! You are good people.
The idea of “giving up” has been reconsidered. It can be more meaningful to “give” rather than “give up”. As your article so clearly suggests. We should look for ways to “give” others what they desperately need in these difficult times. We can give a helping hand, a smile, a comforting hand on the shoulder, a hug. All these things can be done with the thought of also “giving back” to our Creator all we’ve been given. Sometimes “giving” is more meaningful than “giving up”. Love your article and God bless your team and God bless us all.
I always make sure to do more acts of kindness during Lent. I don’t usually give anything up.
Love this so much! I agree 110%. Take the focus off of you, and look at those around you…one of the greatest commandments the world has ever known – “Love your neighbor as yourself”. For a minute, I thought I was reading about myself; I had the same experience in a doctor’s office last November.
Write the letter, send the gift, donate the cereal you love, and not the cheapo brand, and yep, eat the chocolate.
You may be just the instrument God is using to reach someone in desperate need of love.
This is wonderful! And your candy is the best on the planet! God bless you!!!
This is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing positivity, humor and a nudge to do better. Peace be with you.