Success is not just about innate ability. It is combined with a number of key factors such as opportunity, meaningful hard work and your cultural legacy. Random factors of chance, such as when and where you were born can influence the opportunities you have (as asserted by Malcolm Gladwell in his classic book ”Outliers”) in life. How well you succeed and the quality of life you lived will be determined by how you take advantage of the opportunities life presents to you and this in turn is greatly dependent on the kind of ”stuff” you are made of. This so called ”stuff” is simply the sum of your physical, social, emotional and mental well being and if there is one potent means of developing yourself, it is by taking advantage of the ever present wisdom of those who had gone ahead of us and had garnered vital lessons on how to navigate life’s troubled waters. I tell you what, much of these wisdom are very much available in books.
When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant food packet? There is a reading genre for every literate person on the planet. Whatever your taste or preference, there is something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination and knowing them would sure make a better you. If you are one of countless people who do not make a habit of reading regularly, you are missing a great deal on a significant number of benefits. Some of those benefits are listed below:
1. Knowledge – Reading is one fantastic way of filling your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. Even if all you read is fiction, you can learn quite a lot about cultural influence, relationships, history, fear, human psychology, the various expressions of spirituality, the effects of war and so on. Branch out into non-fiction, Biographies, history etc and you will learn more about past and current events. Study Philosophy, Psychology, How-to books. Memoirs, Science, Exploration etc and watch your knowledge base broadens. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle life’s challenges and position yourself for greater tomorrow.
2. Improved writing and speaking skills – Reading published well-written works has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work. Reading is the most painless way to improve your vocabulary, spelling, and grammatical proficiency: the more you read, the more words you gain exposure to and consequently the more articulate and well-spoken you become. Reading is also vital for learning new languages, as non-native speakers gain exposure to words used in context, which will greatly enhance their own speaking and writing fluency.
3. Mental stimulation – Keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. Reading stretches your mind and have also been found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.
4. Stronger analytical thinking skills – As you fill your mind with fresh materials from all these books, you become more creative. Creativity is really all about making connections. The creative people in life have a broad database of knowledge and they can make those connections really well. They do not bother keeping the categories separate. They let poetry seep into science. They let faith and history hang out together. They understand, in fact, that all those categorizations are imposed. We put labels on things so that we can feel like we understand them, but sometimes the labels are counterproductive. Reading helps you to fill your mind from as many sources as you want, and then let all of that beautiful stuff mingle and mix in anyway it wants. Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine the end game. That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well articulated piece. Should you ever have an opportunity to discuss the book with others, you will be able to state your opinions clearly, as you have taken the time to really consider all the aspects involved. That is how reading nurtures your creativity.
5. Improved focus and memory – Apart from being able to nurture your creativity, when you read, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones, which enhances memory recall as well as improving focus and stabilizing moods.
6. Stress reduction – No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great book. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax. In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it is possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility. Reading spiritual texts can lower blood pressure and bring about an immense sense of calm, while reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illnesses.
Reading is truly an essential activity with many benefits. Next time you find yourself with nothing to do, try picking up an interesting book, open your mind and let your imagination run free!