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Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

Back when I was a theist, a few times each year I would go on a fast. From sunset on the first day to nightfall on the next, I would take in nothing but water. It wasn’t easy but then again, it wasn’t supposed to be.

There are many days when I’m so involved in a project that I simply forget to eat until 2 or 3pm. But, of course, we humans are contrary creatures, and never appreciate a thing until we are deprived of it. As a result, during a fast I was always hungry right out of the gate, and hungrier by the next afternoon than I would have been under other conditions.

The main purpose of a fast, in my estimation, is to enforce an atmosphere of introspection, and to instill a sense of gratitude for the most basic things in life. By intentionally depriving myself of food, the most basic requirement, the mind quickly turns inward. Reflection and meditation come easily, and the things that plague our everyday lives lose all importance in comparison.

I have extended this practice to other areas with good effect. When life begins getting to me, I go on a “modernist fast” in an attempt to reboot my thinking and my perspective. If you are interested in simplifying your life, I recommend this heartily. Some things I have done in the past:

  • For a week
    • Give up junk TV shows, news shows, or turn off the TV altogether
    • Take mass transit everywhere, and walk to places whenever possible
    • Give up a vice, a guilty pleasure, dining out, etc.
    • Wash all dishes by hand (sounds goofy, but it’s rather meditative after a while)
  • For a day
    • Give up food
    • Turn off your Blackberry
    • No internet!
    • Do as much as you can by hand

I’ve even gone so far as to try to go the whole day with limited use of electricity. I tell you, spend a whole evening without it—no television, no stereo, no dishwasher, just sitting around with your loved ones, talking or playing a game by candlelight—and your perspective really changes. After all, some people live like this every day.

I find that these Modernist Fasts help me keep my priorities straight, and show me just how much in life I have to be grateful for. Gratitude and humility—appreciating what you have and realizing how lucky you are—really help build inner peace.

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