Do the opposite.
Look for joy.
Lent is a time of renewal, after all.
Do you enjoy the relationships in your life? Relationships with friends and family, your relationship with God, and your relationship with yourself?
Do you enjoy living?
Do you enjoy beauty? Nature? People? Prayer? Art? Science? Movement? Music?
What do you find joy in? What are the gifts of God that you fully appreciate for the joy they bring you?
Lent is not an excuse for making yourself feel miserable. That’s not the point. Neither is announcing sadly (or with a certain sense of heroism…) that you’ll be giving up chocolate or wine or TV for Lent; that might just be part of an outward appearance of “being a good Christian”.
Giving up distractions and ‘substitute satisfactions’ like these can be a helpful way into a closer relationship with God – if we consciously fast with this intention.
Do you actually feel that God is good news to you? Is there joy in being with God for you? Does letting go of some pleasures or habits help you to discover that joy more deeply? If yes, great, go for it. If no, perhaps this is not what you need to do for Lent.
Lent is the journey to Easter. And yes, there are very dark days in that journey. But darkness is not where the journey ends. God has the last word, then as now.
Lent can be a time to (re)discover how to enjoy the friendship of God, God’s company, God’s love. Taking pleasure in God’s presence, and letting God take pleasure in you.
Joy is no less holy than sorrow. Life is a mix of both, and I often feel we are rather better at receiving and contemplating sorrow than joy (how many paintings have you seen in which Jesus laughs or even smiles? Why is it that we seem to think that a serious face makes people appear more pious or religious…?).
Joy is not smiling when we feel pain. Joy is not people pleasing (or appeasing). It’s not superficial or gratuitous. It is a deep and true response to being the Beloved of God.
And to fully enjoy that relationship is giving a gift to God, the God whose being is love and who wishes to draw us into that love. Joy is living the fullness of the loving relationship God offers us, genuinely good news…
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete.