To read or not to read, that is the question. It is understandable that in the age of technology many people are reading far less. With movies and television shows on the rise, reading has become an occasional amusement. Sure, everyone reads an odd book here and there, but what few realize is the power of reading, even just a few pages, every day.
Reading consistently will change your life, and here’s why:
1. One-Way Ticket for Self-Discovery
Reading is a journey, each page a wave pushing your vessel of self-discovery forward. Only through reading can you get a front-row seat into someone’s psyche, feel their struggle, their anguish, their contempt, and their joy.
Try as it may, a movie cannot show the complex philosophical conflict Levin had throughout Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
Try as it may, a movie cannot give you the sense of detachment and indifference Meursault embodied throughout Camus’ The Stranger.
Try as it may, a movie cannot re-create the atmosphere and experience of reading a book.
When you read a piece of fiction you get to truly know the characters; how they think, act, and their reasons for doing so. You experience what they experience, and more often than not, some part of you identifies with the character(s). You begin to recognize yourself in this fictional being, and at the same time recognize your strengths and faults. You watch the fate of these characters unfold, and can’t help but wonder:
“Will mine be the same if I don’t change?”.
Realize, while fiction is not true there is truth in fiction.
Non-fiction can also help you discover yourself. Whether it be biographical or educational, you can learn new things about the world and yourself.
Use literature as a lens to see the world. Recognize your faults from identifying with these characters and authors and work on changing and improving yourself to avoid their undesired outcome.
You can ponder about the thematic ideas presented by the author and decide your view of things. Maybe a new perspective will be opened to you, something you never considered. You can discover what genres interest you, and why you like them. Like this, you gain more insight into yourself.
And when you read every day, that is consistently, your mind will be actively engaged in these stories and you will be emotionally invested. How can you expect to be emotionally connected to a piece of literature if you read a page every two months?
Literature is a complex framework of words that cannot be truly translated into any visual representation. The only way to reap the benefits of self-discovery through reading is to read. As George Martin so eloquently explained:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives only once”.
2. Your Brain Will Thank You
The gym is a place we go to keep our physiques in shape…but what about our brains? Want to know one of the best brain workouts? Reading.
Recent research demonstrated that reading consistently boosts brain power and fights against the memory decline that comes with aging.
An issue of the journal Neurology reported that those who read consistently were able to keep their minds sharper for longer. Individuals who engaged in intellectually stimulating activities had a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline.
So, the earlier you start engaging in intellectually stimulating activities, such as reading daily, the more chance your brain has to slow the neurological effects of aging.
In addition to improving memory function versus aging, reading every day can help reduce the chances of an individual developing Alzheimer’s disease. An article published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) noted that individuals who participated in intellectually stimulating activities, such as reading, could be 2.5 times less likely of developing Alzheimer’s disease, compared to individuals who participated in less intellectually stimulating activities.
3. Lowers Stress Levels
Imagine, you came home after a long tiring day at school or work. You are exhausted and keep thinking about all the deadlines you have to meet. Stress is boiling up inside you. You proceed to grab the book you’re currently reading. Suddenly you are no longer a tired individual of the 21st century, but Harry Potter trying to defeat Voldemort, Elizabeth Bennet sizing up Mr. Darcy, Sisyphus rolling his rock up the hill, or even Dr.Frankenstein creating his creature.
In other words, you escape. This is exactly what reading provides, a temporary escape from our dreary day. In the process of living in another reality, we forget our current problems and can only focus on whether Mr.Darcy will propose to Elizabeth or if Dr.Frankenstein is the real monster.
And in this process, your body and mind can relax as well. Science confirms this, as a study orchestrated by researchers of Sussex University revealed that reading for at least six minutes a day may reduce stress by up to 68 percent. This is more than the effects of taking a walk, drinking a warm drink, or listening to music.
So by reading every day, think of the decreasing level of stress you will induce. What’s more, if you find a way to incorporate reading into your night-time routine, like reading before bed, you can relax before falling asleep and avoid insomnia caused by screens.
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