The word “carême” is deceptive because it looks like a cross between caramel and creme… but really it’s the opposite. Carême in French means Lent. Since the family with whom I’m living is Catholic, starting Wednesday there will be no more sweets. That means no chocolate powder in our milk at breakfast or jam on our bread and worst of all, no more nutella! And what is life in France without nutella? Well, I’m going into town tomorrow to meet up with a friend and we are going to go a little crazy. It’s Mardi Gras! That means that I’m allowed to get two boules (scoops) of ice cream and a chocolate croissant right?
Not but in all seriousness, though I’m not Catholic, I do try to observe Lent. Partially for religious reasons but I think mostly because it’s a good time to break a habit. By this time, our new years resolutions have already fallen through and Lent is another opportunity to make some changes. They say it take 20 days to make or break a habit and given that Lent is 40 days, it’s almost a surefire way to break that bad habit. It’s funny how our minds work. I’m reading a book right now called “The Brain that Changes Itself” and it’s about neuroplasticity. Essentially, research has shown that our brains continue to develop (especially when stimulated), and we can change how it operates. For example, through specific, repetitive exercises, a person with dyslexia can train his or her brain to reform itself in a way that will allow it to function in a normal or above normal capacity. It’s simply amazing what the human body is capable of although sadly, it seems like we don’t take advantage of it.
The book also argues that the idea of “use it or lose it” holds 100% true. Pathways in the brain that are used more often become bigger, more efficient, and more sensitive. That’s why habits are so hard to break. I’ve been wondering if personality defects can also be viewed as reenforced bad habits. I mean, in a sense they kind of are, right? If you’re always ditching your friends or making selfish decisions all the time, that becomes a habit and that bad aspect of your personality is enforced. Meanwhile the non-ditching, unselfish/considerate habits are not being exercised and when you make decisions, maybe those pathways aren’t dominant enough? I don’t know. I’m exhausted from traveling this weekend and I am no neuroscientist.
But this brings me to my point. Ever since my first boyfriend in the 9th grade, I’ve had this terrible habit of prioritizing romantic relationships over my platonic friendships. To an extent, it’s understandable but I think there have been many times when I took it a bit too far and thank the Lord I have understanding friends but they really should never have to put up with that. So in addition to no sweets (when I’m at home), I’m also instating a rule that I will only have platonic relationships with men. Specifically, I have this bad habit of assessing a guy’s date-ability and/or marriage-ability immediately. It’s like how I view the opposite sex is distorted because I’m wearing relationship glasses. I mean, I have many many platonic guy friends but I have a one-track mind and I am going to change that mind. But don’t worry, if I meet the love of my life, I’ll make an exception.
I also think I’m going to give up Ex-Boyfriend. I’m still indulging thoughts about him and from now on, no more. If I think about him, I’m actually gonna force myself to think about something else. He’s dominated my thoughts for over a year now so it’s gonna be a hard habit to break but it’s gotta be done. We all have the capability to become a better version of ourselves. It’s a difficult thing to do and it requires some self-analysis and lots of discipline but if we better ourselves, we’ll eventually be adding more good to the world. My dad always says, it’s one thing to control other people but it’s hardest to control yourself.
So while I’m going to feast tomorrow, I’ll be sustaining myself on some deeeelcious carême for the next 40 days. Happy Mardi Gras folks!