I heard a wonderful sermon on Ash Wednesday by Taryn Mattice. She recognized that most Christians give up chocolate for Lent or Facebook or something comparable. This might be constructive, but for many it causes self-absorption, a false sense of pride, or an excessively guilty sense of failure. Lent is not about self-improvement; it is not a period designed to provide new challenges for the spiritually mature.
Lent began as a 40 day period designed to help those who had denied Jesus (in favor of Caesar) to bring themselves closer to God so they could be reconciled with the church on Easter. At some point, the church recognized that all Christians were sinners and should specially devote the 40 day period to coming closer to God.
It is not remotely clear that in deciding how to get closer to God that giving up chocolate or losing weight or abandoning Facebook would be the first idea out of the box. Mattice thought giving up stress (to the extent possible) might be a worthy ideal (albeit it not completely achievable) for her college student congregation.
I told a friend and colleague about this sermon who suggested that giving up criticism for Lent would be a worthy goal, and that makes sense to me. I am thinking not about social and political criticism, but our (my) tendency in thought or conversation to engage in unnecessary criticism (gossip or internal thoughts) of others around us.
If we recognize the point of Lent (we are all part of a community of sinners trying to come closer to God), we should stop casting stones and try to see the presence of God struggling to emerge in ourselves and others.