Lent is a season many Christians practice during the forty days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter. This year it starts on February 14th. It is a time of fasting and preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Different denominations have slightly different ways of practicing the season of Lent, but the main practice is giving something up to bring you closer to God. When you find yourself wanting the thing you gave up, you pray, which brings you and God closer.

Throughout my years of practicing Lent, I have given up many things (chocolate, buying songs on iTunes, cokes, etc.) What I gave up last year though, was quite possibly the most rewarding thing I've ever given up.

Last year, for Lent, I gave up saying bad things about myself.

It is sad, but we are taught to find things wrong with ourselves. Society tells us that we're not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. And when society is telling us these things, we start to believe it. It's not healthy for us, but we compare ourselves to others, and we wish to be someone other than who we are.

You might be thinking, "how can you give up something like this?' Here's how it worked- when I caught myself saying or thinking something negative about me, I wrote down one thing I liked about myself, and I could only write each thing down once throughout the season of Lent. This forced me to keep thinking up new good things since I wouldn't let myself repeat.

I wrote over 60 positive things, and there are only 40 days in Lent, so you can do the math to figure out how negative I was. I'll be honest, it was hard at times. It was difficult to think of multiple things a day that I hadn't already written down. We are taught not to brag, so thinking up these positive ideas was challenging. But, reading them back made it so worth it.

I learned that while I can always find things about myself I want to change, it is so much more rewarding to focus on the things I love about myself.

This is how we should live. We should all live a life that exemplifies everything great about us. Because here is the truth-even if our crush doesn't like our picture on Instagram, even if we have terrible skin, even if we don't get chosen for a job we really wanted, the fact of the matter is that Jesus loves us despite every real and make-believe flaw we have. That's the epitome of what I learned. I learned that despite the things I'd want to change, I'm pretty great. And so are you. And so is everyone.

I don't know if you already have something planned to give up for Lent, if your denomination practices Lent, or if you even consider yourself a Christian.

What I do know, however, is that negative thoughts only bring harm, but positive thoughts can completely change your outlook on yourself. If you need something to give up for Lent or are just tired of thinking negatively, I challenge you to give up hating on yourself from February 14 through Easter Sunday (April 1). You won't be disappointed, and you might even end up loving yourself a little bit more.