Before Lent began, I committed to two behavior changes: one to curb a vice, the other to cultivate a virtue. In brief:
- I stopped taking advantage of the free food opportunities near my office in the hopes that I could stop feeling like I was taking advantage of people and feeling pleasure in pride in getting one over on someone
- I tried to overhaul the way I donated to charity in order to be more responsive to the people around me, instead just kicking in sporadically to malaria nets. (I added this one mid-way through)
Let’s take them in the opposite order:
I don’t think the iPhone countdown I rigged up was very helpful (when I got an ‘ask’ of any kind, I tallied it and every 5 ‘asks’ I donated to Against Malaria). I think I probably was still missing ‘asks’ and didn’t feel anything new. So I’m going to treat this as an inconclusive pilot I can return to in the future.
Here’s the new plan. The largest discretionary budget I have on Mint is ‘Entertainment’ (assuming I exclude the ‘Education’ budget for ASL lessons and my NYT and New Yorker subscriptions). For April and May, I’m going to make a matching donation for whatever my ‘Entertainment’ spending was (the expenses in that category are usually movies, theatre, and roller derby tickets). This way I can bump up my contribution while still keeping it tied to what I can afford. This doesn’t help with the making-charity-less-abstract-and-distant problem, but I have a different idea on that front that I’ll let you know about after I give it a go.
The free food fast is also technically inconclusive, I guess, but I think it was helpful. As I mentioned last year in my Maundy Thursday post, I need to work on joyfully and accepting the generosity of others, and, if nothing else, this discipline was a reminder every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday that this kind of uncharity is a besetting sin of mine.
I think and hope it made me a little more sensitive to the ways I fail on this, so it would be worth it for that alone. And, now, presumably, I’ll still be reminded on Wednesdays and Fridays when I go to the free wine and cheese tastings. (Sadly, the cupcakes on Tuesdays promotion was cancelled during Lent). Fixing this tendency will take more than 40 days.