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  [Day 7] How Ramadan helps us change our behaviours

Assalamu'alaikum all,

There's a theory by a Standford professor called BJ Fogg on how behaviours change. And he describes three reasons why people change their habit. These are:

  1. An epiphany: Something hits you that completely changes your perception and forces you to change behaviour. e.g. You get the results from the doctor and it says that you're diabetic and now you have to change your diet.
  2. Change Environment: The environment arounds you changes so it forces you to change your behaviour. For example, you move to a new town/city, or you change jobs and have a different set of friends who have different habits and norms that affect your behaviour.
  3. Baby steps: You change your behaviour by making small changes towards your desired behaviour until these small changes become part of your new behaviour. E.g. You cut out dessert from your dinner and after a while, you stop eating dessert at all during the day and avoid sugary foods.

Now, here's the interesting part: The power of Ramadan is that it activates all the above 3 reasons to change our behaviours during Ramadan.

  1. Ramadan & Epiphany: With all the spirituality that takes place in Ramadan. Many people go through epiphanies, moments when they realise who Allah is, and how far they are from Him (SWT). These epiphanies cause drastic changes in people's behaviours. You've probably heard of people making Tawba during Ramadan and completely changing their behaviours for the better.
  2. Ramadan & Change of Environment: With changing meal times, and spending extra time in the masjid, Ramadan does change our environments too. Whereas before we might be hanging out with friends at cafes or restaurants. Now we meet them in the masjid and pray taraweeh together. Whereas before we used to have lunch on our own, now as a family we sit down and have iftar meal together. Ramadan takes away the "routine" that we are used to and forces a new routine, thus changing our environment.
  3. Ramadan & Baby steps: Perhaps the least behavioural change aspect appreciated or implemented properly in Ramadan, is this idea of taking baby steps. Unfortunately, many people from day 1 of Ramadan, jump into full force of reciting as much as they can and praying as much as they can and by the middle or end of Ramadan - when it really matters to put that extra effort, they find it hard to keep up.

So today's key message is for us to think about how do we build the baby steps in our lives in the Spiritual areas, physical areas, and social areas, so that we have a productive Ramadan?

The great thing is that you guys aren't waiting for Ramadan - you guys are starting now to change your behavious by taking part in the weekly challenge - which brings me to the question of the day: "Did you do your 3 challenges?"

You'll need to answer in the comments section below in one of three ways:

  • yyy means I have done all three challenges today
  • nnn means I didn't do them today
  • yny I did the Spiritual, not the Physical, but the social
  • nny I didn't do the spiritual, nor the physical, but I did the social

To be more clear:

  • 1st y or n is for Spiritual
  • 2nd y or n is for Physical
  • 3rd y or n is for Social

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Mohammed Faris