Alternative ideas for what to give up for Lent beginning Ash Wednesday. Reuters

For 40 days and 40 nights practicing Christians “give something up” for Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, which is when the traditional fast starts. Traditionally, food indulgences and regular luxuries are sacrificed, but instead of giving something up, what if some Christians start doing a little more of something? Listed below are some ideas for people who want to do more instead of less.

1. Pray -- Making a vow to pray throughout Lent could help Christians connect with their faith.

2. Compliment others -- Most people like being complimented, and handing out one compliment a day can help make someone’s day a little brighter.

3. Smile -- It’s hard to be upset while smiling. Even if it’s a gloomy day and the barista gave you decaf, finding a reason to smile can help make the day more bearable.

4. Listen -- It sounds easy, but in an age where everyone is glued to technology, listening is harder than some might think. Making time for conversation can be relaxing and lending an ear -- without interruption -- can help someone who needs to talk.

5. Attend church -- This one goes along with praying. While most Christians make sure to attend church on major holidays -- and Ash Wednesday, of course -- making a promise to wake up early enough on Sunday to go to church could be a good way to follow through with penance.

6. Volunteer -- For those with a little extra time, lending a helping hand at a local shelter, nursing home or hospital will benefit those in need. Not a people person? Most neighborhoods have animal shelters that probably could use a volunteer.

7. Eat Healthier -- Most people might give up ice cream and fast food. Making a promise to eat more vegetables could improve health overall. Bonus: Bikini season will be here before you know it.

For those who like more traditional ideas, check out this article by International Business Times reporter Lora Moftah for popular ideas on what people do for penance.

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