Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Benefits of Reading

According to writer and philosopher Alain de Botton and those at The School of Life, books are valuable because they expand our knowledge and understanding, validate our feelings and actions, and inspire our lives.

If you’re one of the non-book readers that says, “I watch the news, I read stuff on the Internet, I scan a magazine article once in a while, so I don’t need no stinking books!”, maybe I can change your mind with these 10 psychologically beneficial reasons to start the habit.

1) Reading saves you time

Sometimes it may seem like reading is wasting time, but it’s actually the ultimate time saver because it gives us access to a range of emotions and experiences that it would take years and years to experience in person. Reading is the best reality simulator because it takes us through so many more situations than we will ever have time to see for ourselves.

Reading also acts as a time machine. By picking up and opening a book we can hear great people and writers from the past speaking to us, mind-to-mind, and heart-to-heart.

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” ~William Styron

2) Reading gives us opportunities to experience other cultures and places

Reading reveals aspects about the lives of people in other places like India or Ireland, giving us insight into many ethnicities, cultures, lifestyles, etc. By reading, we become more aware of different places and the customs of those places.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~Dr. Seuss

3) Reading builds compassion

Reading books takes us into another person’s world and allows us to see through his/her eyes. Books give us truths about human beings – their behaviors, their emotions, how they interact – that’s hard to get any other way other than reading about it. Not only that, authors can relate their experiences, feelings, and knowledge about these things because it goes into what they write.

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours” ~Alan Bennet

4) Reading improves creativity

Reading about the diversity of life and exposing ourselves to new ideas and more information helps to bring out the creative side of our brain as it absorbs new ideas and ways of thinking.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ~Stephen King

5) Reading helps reduce feelings of loneliness

We often can’t say what’s really on our minds, but in books we amazingly find descriptions of what we think about. In the best books, it’s as if the writer knows us better than we know ourselves, finding the words to describe the delicate, weird, and unique goings on inside of us, which helps with feelings of being the only one that thinks like that. And being entertained through reading can help us forget about our own troubles for a while.

“We read to know we’re not alone.” ~William Nicholson

6) Reading cures boredom

If we’re feeling bored, all we have to do is pick up a book and start reading. What is bound to happen is that we’ll become interested in the book’s subject and stop being bored. Think about it, if we’re bored anyway, we might as well be reading a good book, right?

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.” ~Jane Smiley

7) Reading prepares us for the future

Many books are about life’s challenges and ways of dealing with it and the people around us. They’re a tool to help us live and die with a little bit more wisdom, graciousness, and sanity. More often than not, reading a book has made the future of a person.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” ~Margaret Fuller

8) Reading engages the mind

Reading uses our brain. While reading we’re forced to reason out many things that we’re not familiar with, using more of our grey matter. Plus, reading improves vocabulary. While reading books, especially challenging ones, we’ll find many new words we wouldn’t see, hear, or use otherwise.

Reading also improves concentration and focus because with books we focus on what we’re reading for longer periods of time compared to magazines or Internet posts that only have bits of information. And since we have to concentrate when reading, like a muscle, we’ll get better at it. Similarly, reading helps stretch memory muscles so it also improves memory. Research shows if you don’t use your memory, you lose it.

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” ~Fran Lebowitz

9) Reading increases self-confidence

The more we read, the more we learn. With more knowledge, our self-esteem builds.  Strong self-esteem helps with self-confidence. It’s a chain reaction. And being well read, people will look to us for answers, which makes ourselves feel smarter.

“A word after a word after a word is power.” ~Margaret Atwood

10) Reading always gives us something to talk about

Reading books keeps us out of embarrassing situations where we don’t have anything to talk about. We can chat about the latest Stephen King book we’ve read or discuss the stuff we’re learning in the business or psychology books we’re reading. The possibilities of sharing become endless.

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