To Read, Or Not To Read?

In today’s busy world, we often overlook the inspiration, wisdom and help found through reading. Here’s why you should invest your time and read.

‘There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.’

Walt Disney

I spent many happy hours of my youth reading. Oh sure I had friends and liked playing outside, stealing candy and other normal childhood things (it was just the one time stealing candy). But I particularly loved reading. Even better, eating potato chips and stolen candy while reading.

Fantasy books were, and still are, my favourite type of fiction. In fantasy books, I can escape to far-away lands where the battle lines between good and evil are clear (no confusing shades of gray) and love is pure and everlasting (and unspoiled by Tinder).

Ok…‘ I hear you saying, ‘So you’re a romantic idealist, still waiting for your knight in shining armor, probably wear glasses the size of coke bottles and own 7 cats.

No need to worry – real life (and Tinder) has knocked all the romantic idealism out of me, contact lenses are far more convenient than glasses, and my landlord has been clear that 4 cats is the limit.

Even more importantly, with maturity I have expanded into the world of non-fiction. And have been delighted to find that this world has enhanced my life greatly.

The Rise of Digital Distractions

Clearly I love reading. I am also a product of the glorious 80’s, a golden time when children (while not reading) roamed the neighborhoods unaccompanied – helping ET find his way home, discovering dead bodies and having Excellent Adventures.* We lived in a time of innocence, blissfully unaware of upcoming Digital Distractions such as the Internet and Netflix binge watching.

As the world of Digital Distractions has evolved, I have retained my love of reading. For many people however, the battle between Reading and Digital Distractions is not coming down well on the side of Reading.

A blog in favor of reading.

*A reference to some of the best 80’s movies: E.T., Stand By Me, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Why You Should Read

Finding time to read can be difficult. The real problem though is often a lack of motivation. Are you sufficiently motivated to find time to read? Or do you instead find yourself distracted by the desire to check email, checkout a YouTube video or post your 15th daily selfie to Instagram?

Here’s three key reasons why you should invest your time in reading:

(1) Reading is fun and good for you!

You like having fun right? Well reading is fun! Through a good book you are transported to other worlds, times, experiences, all from the comfort of your own couch. Like a trip to Disney World without the lines, expensive tickets and screaming kids.

Yes movies and series are fun too, but they are a passive experience. You don’t fully immerse in the internal dialogue and experiences of the characters or create your own version of the world they live in. When passively watching a movie, your brain powers down to “economy” mode where it only takes charge of shoveling popcorn into your mouth.

Reading is also excellent for strengthening your mind, reducing stress and increasing memory as well as cognitive capacity. What more could you want? To the bookstore!

‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.’

Joseph Addison

(2) Books are teachers, friends and allies

What you didn’t get taught at school

So you might be asking yourself ‘Didn’t we get learning over and done with in school?’ Actually, no. School taught you (hopefully) the basics – reading, writing and arithmetics. Maybe you also went onto university and added some more specialized information.

However, the primary object of the education system is to convert students into wage earning members of society as quickly as possible. You most likely weren’t taught many essential life skills, such as emotional intelligence, how to make better decisions, or how to improve your relationships.

Further, you didn’t get to study all of the interesting topics that were taught in school. Perhaps you chose to study finance, being a more profitable career choice, whereas really it was history that interested you. Now your world is filled with numbers and balance sheets, but you have no idea of the history of the Roman empire (except that they invented pizza 🍕).

The wisdom found through reading

Reading allows knowledge to be shared and built upon. Through the development of reading and writing, human civilization was able to advance. Otherwise every generation would have to rely on memory and word of mouth. A method which is notorious unreliable, as anyone who’s played Telephone / Chinese Whispers knows.

Back in the days, only the highly privileged and elite had access to reading and writing skills. Nowadays much more people have access but we take this for granted.

Through well-written books and articles (or blogs! 😜) there is a wealth of information, ideas and inspiration available as a result of countless time spent in research and thought, often by some truly great minds.

To learn more about the world, history, science, love, other people and yourself, read. Don’t get bogged down in social media feeds and news bites delivered by increasingly one-sided media sources. Find material that makes your grow. Expand your perspective, learn different ways of seeing the world and realize that all the questions you’ve asked have been asked, thought of and addressed before.

When you feel like you’re struggling with your problems, books are your friend and ally. Books remind you that you are not alone in whatever you’re struggling with, as well as provide wisdom and help with finding solutions.

Reading gives access to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and provides support for almost any problem you may find yourself in.

‘If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’

Isaac Newton

Be informed, not simply opinionated

In today’s world of social media, “information” and “facts” are being replaced by “prejudice” and “opinion”. Unfortunately it’s much quicker and easier to spread hate and fear based rumors, than to take the time to understand history and context before coming up with your own opinion.

In order to grow from simply parroting the opinions of others, you need to become informed and consider different points of view before forming your own opinion. One of the best ways to do this is through reading.

‘Think before speaking. Read before thinking.’

Fran Lebowitz

(3) Words are powerful – use them to your advantage

It’s true that the pen is mightier than the sword. It also carries a lower chance of jail time! 😂 Words are powerful, both in written and spoken form. The more you read, the better you will be at using words.

Words can and have been used to change the course of history. The world’s greatest orators know the power of using words. However, you don’t have to be Nelson Mandela to learn how to use your words in a way to better shape your life. Anyone can learn how to better organize and choose their words to communicate their thoughts in the most impactful manner. This leads to better connections with people and enhances both professional and personal growth.

In today’s technological world, we have become used to communicating through abbreviations. Although this can be more efficient, it loses the true power of words. Nobody is going to stand up in front of a crowd and change the world with abbreviations and incomplete sentences. Reading keeps us in touch with the power of words.

Invest Your Time In Reading

There is an incredible amount that we can learn from reading. We shouldn’t lose the opportunity to access the world of knowledge and inspiration that is available.

We are all responsible for making the world a better place. By taking advantage of the wisdom already available, we can build the best possible future.

With this, I can sleep better knowing that myself, my four cats and my future knight in shining armor will have a future worth looking forward too.

‘Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.’

Barack Obama

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