Growing up as a Catholic, one of my favorite parts of the faith was Lent. During this period, Catholics choose something to deny themselves for 40 days in preparation for Easter, when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

Like a lot of Catholics, I started by giving up the obvious things like chocolate and other treats. However, the most impactful Lent I ever had was when I gave up cursing. I love to curse (did then, do now), so it was a meaningful decision. What I didn’t realize until a couple of weeks into my decision was how sensitive I would become to other people cursing.

My body would physically jolt when I heard the four-letter words I had embraced just weeks before. After that Lent, I continued to include cursing in my everyday vocabulary but I was much more aware of when I did it and how it made me feel.

I have since left Catholicism, but the idea of intentionally breaking habits for short periods of time as a way to become more aware of how they make you feel sticks with me.

I recently went on a two-week vacation that really drove this home. During that two-week period, I didn’t have to follow the sleep schedule, media consumption, eating, exercise, or thought patterns I had been following for the previous six months. Instead of taking that time to just unplug, I intentionally lived my life at a different pace than I had been back home.

When I returned to my usual routine, I was aware of the everyday ways in which I had become desensitized to my world. There were beautiful aspects of my life that I was taking for granted like the friends I see at work and ample time I have to pursue my interests. There were also aspects of my life that were toxic that I was ignoring like my daily commute and parts of my work.

By intentionally resensitizing myself, I’ve become more aware of what’s fucking awesome in my life and what needs to change.

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