Ramadanesque Behavioral Modification


“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” ~ Paul J. Meyer (1 hour before sunset)

Let us first set the threats under which made this article published, (let's call them my Ramadanesque Threats):

  • If I don't write fast enough, I can't publish before sunset.
  • If I don't make it before sunset, I have to work through the night and lose precious sleep.
  • If I don't sleep at night, I can't wake up for sahoor, can't read in the morning, and worstest of all: can't be awake enough to practice yoga.


This is what fasting Ramadan has been doing to my habits:

1. Grin-and-Bear-It-A-LOT
Before Ramadan, I made the resolution to not complain about the fasting part. Ever. With hunger, sleepiness, thirst, uncontrollable rage, the method is the same: Either I stare it down or break the fasting.

(Occasional cursing still applies, but purely out of linguistic necessity.)

2. Daily Rhythm Challenge
Feeding hours during Ramadan forced me to reset my daily rhythm. Eat, sleep, exercise according to a tight schedule, or else miss my chance and I have to wait until tomorrow to start over. This one is easier because I have social support. The only person whose schedule I have to coordinate with is a hermitic clergy, and he is already for schedules and productive Ramadan by default.

3. Sharpened Survival Instincts.
The prohibitions of Ramadan are set against natural biological needs. The needs that humans, on a normal day, are allowed to bear arms to protect and fulfill. Ramadan schedules and fasting will drive that same survival instinct to full force. It sharpens awareness and readdresses priorities. It is like warming up for a fight, but not really getting into one, because we know that the sun will, eventually, set. This does amazing things to my productivity, while the knowledge that the sun will set holds it back from running demonstrations.

4. Responsibility in Daily Choices.
There is always the "be an egg and put your head under a rock for a month" approach to Ramadan. Except that it NEVER feels as great or as rewarding as "be awesome and take Ramadan by the horns". While picking between approaches, I have to note that the "be an egg" approach is unavailable to parents with toddlers, the poor and people who actually want to do REMARKABLE THINGS with their lives.


5. Applied Behavioral Modification
I'm craving a lot of things right now. The hardest to ignore is the craving to catch my servant before he leaves and hand his week's allowance. The other is cutting my nails, because they're too long to let me write.


The cravings are getting worse by the letter, and I'm only able to write this next sentence without jumping out of the chair is because I had that list of consequences lined up at the beginning of this article. The HORRIBLE THINGS that will happen if I don't publish this really really now.

In applied psychology, the first rule of behavioral modification is simplifying the course from action to really, really clear rewards. Publish, go pay and cut nails. Get off before that, suffer through LONG SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS.

(With my chronic ADD, I am so glad it ONLY TOOK 30 YEARS to figure out the stuff that can make me sit through a writing session.)


On the other hand, is nothing. Seriously, I'm writing without the usual cigarette in my hand.

I had always believed that I could not write or plug in my brain without a cigarette. And it's not true for today's writing rush; because if I don't write this, I am going to lose a lot more than just writing. So, yeah, my fingers are shivering from withdrawal symptoms, but I'm forced to follow this one condition: learn to write without smoking.

(Shout-out to Fina for suggesting the unthinkable.)

Now, how do I make the good habits stick on off-Ramadan months?

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