New Year, time for some new behaviors to make myself anew. Right? We all do that, and how do you plan to do that?
I’ve got my own goals that I was working on prior to the new year, and it got me thinking. What’s the difference between fasting and abstinence? How does refraining from something differ between those two things?
After some research into definitions and different religious meanings to these words, particularly fasting and abstinence, they are very different. Having these perspectives in mind may change how your goals for the new year.
Fasting is complete withholding of something for an intended purpose. It can be food, thoughts or other things that can be consumed or consuming. It can be done for health, spiritual, or other personal reasons.
One Merriam-Webster definition of abstinence literally says “the practice of not having or doing something that is wanted or enjoyable”. It’s no wonder sexual abstinence teaching doesn’t do very well in the public school system with this definition. It seems like if we choose to abstain from something, we are just asking to be tempted.
Now it seems like fasting and abstinence are similar. The intention behind the words are much different. Fasting has a specific defined purpose, a reason behind the action. Abstinence seems to lack that and makes the practice of withholding even more difficult.
Finally, refrainment is slightly more intentional as well, and the root word “refrain” is actually a repetitive sequence in a musical piece. It is not spontaneous, and is usually given as a directive towards others. For example, most speakers usually ask you to refrain from asking questions until the end of their discussion. This is because the speaker may answer your question in their talk and wants to avoid repeating themselves to save time.
So, think about your goals. Are you intentionally fasting? Are you abstaining from something enjoyable? For what purpose are you doing these things? Do you find yourself in a refrain and need to practice some refrainment?
I hope this article made you think and evaluate your goals to make them even clearer for you. I hope you are successful this year in all your goals! Feel free to comment and discuss any thoughts or questions you may have.