My friends and family know that my idea of the perfect evening is coming home, having a good meal and sitting in the recliner with a book, magazine or article on the web. That’s just me, but there are a lot of great reasons why you too should be reading right now (kudos for reading this, by the way).
1. Reading helps us relax.
I work in a very busy field. I’m always on the phone or driving through traffic. It can get a bit overwhelming at times. Reading in the evening helps me chill out.
But is this true for everyone? Science says so. A 2009 study (reported by the Telegraph) of relaxation methods by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex revealed that, of the several methods tried by volunteers, reading was the most effective, more so than listening to music, walking or playing video games. What’s more, reading helps you get calmer faster. According to the study, participants showed a slower heart rate and less tension in their muscles after only 6 minutes of reading.
Perseverance. Focus. Imagination. You’ll need all three of these to read well and (not surprisingly) to tackle tough situations. Being able to better think through our challenges naturally follows having the clarity of mind that reading can provide. But reading also gives us new perspectives. It is an activity that encourages us to approach problems differently than the way in which we normally try to come at them.
That said, I still don’t recommend Income Tax for Dummies over a good CPA come April.
3. Reading enables us to have better conversations.
Want to get better at carrying on compelling conversations? There’s a book for that: The Art of Conversation.
Guys, having something interesting to talk about during a night out with friends or over dinner with a special someone requires that you actually be interesting. Reading helps with that. The more you know, right?
This depends largely on what types of books you read. Fiction is tough to turn into a conversation topic unless everyone else has already read the same thing you have. Since that’s unlikely, topics gleaned from non-fiction books are probably your best bet. Plus, people tend to like getting recommendations from their friends. Who knows, you may have the makings of your own book group before long.
4. Reading improves our writing skills.
It’s a fact that most professions today require that applicants be adept writers. Whether it’s crafting sales pitches, creating written reports or just sending professional emails–well-developed writing skills are a must. Reading helps us further hone those skills because repeated exposure to professional writing (i.e. spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, etc.) causes us to mimic those attributes in our own writing. Call it learning by osmosis. Also, more exposure to more words expands our vocabulary, enabling us to be able to communicate more effectively and articulate more complex ideas.
This idea goes all the way back to the dawn of civilization. In almost all cultures around the world, the basic moral ideas of those societies were based on the wisdom of books. Fictional characters and historical figures alike are presented with questions and challenges that cause them to make decisions. Reading many different works in many different genres and time periods exposes us to a wealth of information about what people have deemed to be right and wrong. Opening one’s self up to these ideas helps us decide what we would do in those situations. Books on history, politics, religion and so forth add to this basis of knowledge. Knowledge is power and moral enlightenment.
6. Reading helps us stay healthy.
Science keeps on proving this one over and over again and I really can’t stress it enough. Reading is good for you. Several studies conducted over the years have shown that regularly reading helps people to curb the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, combat depression and, as we mentioned earlier, reduce stress. It improves overall mental acuity as well.
As you can see, there are more than enough reasons out there for why you should be reading right now.
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