“Once upon a time…”

Remember how magical that one sentence was to read as a child? Behind that single sentence was a daring adventure awaiting us.

One that pulled us deep into an alternate reality.

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Read to adventure everyday

A reality that was beyond our wildest imaginations, that catapulted us into making ‘friends’ with imaginary characters and getting to personally ‘explore’ uncharted terrain.

We were let in on secret plots, dangerous quests, love affairs, heartbreak, insecurities, trials, tribulations, accomplishments and victories. And these adventures shaped us in ways we weren’t even aware of at that age and may not be fully aware of now.

Let’s explore the many ways reading books benefit us and why you should read every day

Reading teaches empathy and compassion

When you embark on a reading journey, you are travelling the path of another person. You get to see what they see, think what they think, go where they go, and you are with them until their story concludes.

The phrase ‘Walk a mile in another’s shoes’ isn’t just a cliché.

When we are able to understand another person, we are able to empathize and have compassion for them. Book after book, and character after character helps us build those soft skills that we might not learn as easily in real life.

What the studies say

When we experience a character who’s suffering, sinning, sad, hurting, losing, heartbroken, happy, succeeding, winning, over-joyed, in love, overcoming, and empowered – we get the opportunity in written word to get to stand in their shoes with them.

We get sad and happy with them. Our hearts break and swell when theirs do. Their wins and loses become our own.

We want the ‘bad guy’ to lose as much as they do, and we are cheering our favorite characters with every word we read.

Studies prove that those who are avid readers have a greater ability to empathize and to be compassionate in real life. That these skills we exhibit while reading our favorite books help us to more easily step into the shoes another in our everyday lives.

benefits of reading books_2Stress reduction and mental stimulation

Engaging in reading a captivating story can transport you to other realities and realms, allowing you to inadvertently be in the present moment where you can let all your stresses, anxieties, fears and negative emotions drift away and be temporarily forgotten.

High stress levels can cause a myriad of diseases and it’s proven that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or even prevent) diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Just as our muscles can atrophy if we stop exercising, our brain too, requires ‘workouts’ to stay sharp and healthy.

Reading books is a great way to ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to our mental health and well-being.

Knowledge

Knowledge is power, and you never know when a random piece of advice or a skill in a book might come in handy in real life!

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, reading proves to be a rich educational tool that – along with empathy and compassion – teaches us life skills and hacks that are applicable to our daily lives.

Reading also enhances and increases our vocabulary and grammar skills, which can some powerful impacts on our personal and professional lives.

Being articulate and well-spoken could be the difference between getting your resume looked at, being taken seriously in a business setting, getting a second date after the first, or thriving in a 25-year relationship with a spouse.

Memory improvement and stronger, better thinking skills

When you read a book, you have to remember different character’s names, storylines, timelines, history, and ambitions, along with the plots and sub-plots that come within more complex reading material.

Amazingly, every time you create a new memory, you forge new brain pathways (synapses) as well as strengthen existing ones – which promote short-term memory recall as well as mood stabilization.

Reading improves critical and analytical skills by getting the reader to take note of all the many details involved in the story and to begin putting pieces together at will.

benefits of reading books_3Better focus and concentration

In today’s world of technology, noise, stress and being pulled in a million directions at once, it is rare when we aren’t multi-tasking or giving our full attention to one specific task.

This societal ADD-like behavior has become the new ‘normal’ and is proven to actually lower our productivity.

When you’re reading a book, your full attention is on the story and the rest of life melts away before our very eyes during that time.

Reading is ‘practice’ for holding our attention to a specific task that can transfer to times when we need to be attentive and dial in focus on one thing such as when we have a deadline at work, or when we need to focus in on having a serious conversation with our significant other.

Improved writing and communication skills

It goes without saying that enriching your mind and brain with complicated stories, words, concepts, metaphors and vocabulary will inadvertently have a profound effect on your own writing (email, text messages, etc) and verbal communication skills.

Reading books can make you into a Language Ninja!

Free entertainment!

Sure, you can purchase books, but do you utilize your local library as well? Libraries offer endless book options for free and in today’s world of Kindles and Audiobooks, it’s easy to forget what we have right in our own neighborhood to take advantage of!

You’ll never run out of options by visiting and supporting your local library and you won’t need to burn a hole in your pockets just to get your hands on some books.

So, step away from your computer for a bit and indulge in some healthy silence and alone time. You might just discover that while you lose yourself in the pages of a novel, you are also finding your best self.

Connect with Expert Emma Pietrzak

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