According to statistics by Gallup and Pew, Americans are reading less and less. When I talk to people about the reasons they don’t read, the main excuse I hear is undoubtably: “I just don’t have time.”
You can’t afford the time to read? Why read? Reading has so many wonderful benefits. I would venture to say that people who desire success cannot afford to not read.
You think I’m crazy? Well I’m not the first one to make such claims. In the words of Confucious,
“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” ~ Confucius
Reading helps to boost creativity. As you engage with the great minds of human civilization and contemplate and synthesize new ideas, your brain gets a work out. Working out your brain will boost your comprehension and problem solving skills, which can come in handy in the work place.
Reading can also broaden your horizons and help you learn new things. You never know when that article about wind turbulence will come in handy to impress your friends at a party or inspire a new idea at work.
In the words of Dr. Suess,
“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss
Not only will reading broaden your knowledge base, it will also help to improve your grammar, vocabulary, and rhetoric skills. You don’t have to study speech and grammar to learn how to communicate better. As you read, you will absorb the words of the greatest communicators in history.
“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” ~ René Descartes
“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” – Abraham Lincoln
Between having fresh interesting content to talk about and the rhetorical skills needed to express that content, you will find that your confidence and communication skills recieve a major boost.
Success often comes from learning how to effictively work and deal with people. It looks like reading can help with that! Recent studies have begun to link reading literary fiction to increased social skills and deeper empathy.
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman
One researcher, David Kidd, explains:
“What great writers do is to turn you into the writer. In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others…”
Not only does reading help you to interact with the outside world, it can help your personal needs as well. Mindlab International at the University of Sussex conducted research to find the quickest ways to reduce stress. Reading worked the best, by far. According to Dr. David Lewis, one of the researchers in the program,
“Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.”
For all the insomniacs out there, reading may also be good way to get to sleep at night. The blue light leaking out of computer screens and other devices sends signals to the brain that keep it wired and awake. Not only does reading reduce stress, but it makes for a perfect before bed relaxation and decompression routine.
You still don’t think you have the time for reading? Well, reading may also help you to have more time. What I mean is, research has linked mentally stimulating activity (like reading) to slower memory decline. According to The Huffington Post,
“…People who exercised their minds later in life had a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline compared to their peers with average mental activity. The rate of decline amongst those with infrequent mental activity, on the other hand, was 48 percent faster than the average group.”
According to another study, it looks like reading may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. So if you want to have more time cognizant enough to work and do great things, reading may be a great way to slow mental decline.
Most folks manage to fit in twitter conversations and a bit of television each week. How about swapping out some of your free time for a form of entertainment that may benefit you even more than the latest reality t.v. show?
And when it really comes down to it, reading doesn’t have to take a lot of extra time. You don’t necessarily have to carve out a chunk of your schedule to dedicate to reading. You might be surprised by how much reading you can get done when you fit tiny bits here and there in between the extra spaces of your day.
Even if you don’t have much time to spare, reading is a great way to fill in the cracks in your life. I am talking about the time you spend waiting between two meetings, long lines, commutes, waiting for a phone call, sitting in a waiting room – in all these situations, simply pull a book out of your bag or turn on your eReading device and enjoy a few pages. It is a habit worth pursuing.
“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” – A C Grayling