Brain science has shown that it takes more than thirty days to change a negative behavior into a positive behavior.
In plain words, if you want to eat healthier, it takes a little over thirty days to make those changes. If you want to exercise more, it takes a little over thirty days to make those changes. And so on. It takes that time to create neural pathways in the brain that lead to automaticity.
If you play an instrument or a sport, think of it this way: in order to get that guitar chord, or piano hands, or grip on the baseball bat, you need to practice the correct way over a period of time. Usually thirty (plus) days.
In the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), we often hear the phrase “forty days”. In Hebrew, forty days can mean either forty literal days, or “a long time” (longer than a month).
Now, put together the brain science (thirty plus days) with the Old Testament (forty days) and what do you get? The time it takes to create a new and positive habit.
Enter Lent. Lent is the forty-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter (except Sundays, which are “beyond time” as they are all celebrations of the resurrection). Lent is the perfect opportunity to begin good habits.
Want to eat better? Start on Ash Wednesday and keep going until Easter. Want to exercise more? Start on Ash Wednesday and keep going until Easter. Want to pray more? Hopefully by now you get it.
The Season of Lent can be more than a time of giving up something we like. It can be a time of changing our lives by creating better mental, physical and spiritual habits. We can use this natural time in the church calendar to begin a better life.
As we approach Ash Wednesday, take some time to consider what positive changes you want to make. Write them down. Create a goal. Vision yourself achieving that goal. And go for it.
May God bless you abundantly this Lenten season.