How much reading do you engage in on a daily basis?
Are you a voracious reader? Do you have some of your time allocated to active reading on a daily basis or does your reading time only goes as far as the time you spend reading social media updates?
Do you know that not having a good reading habit might actually be a disservice to yourself?
While entertainment and relaxation are some of the reasons for reading, there are more to reading than just for fun. You can read to get informed, you can read to get inspired and you can read to acquire new skills but that’s not all. There are more significant benefits of reading, and that is our topic for today. You may already be aware (or not) of many of these benefits. Whichever is the case, this article aims to inform and/or remind you of some of the great benefits that are associated with forming and maintaining an active reading habit.
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The benefits of developing a good reading habit
1. Mental step up
One of the benefits of reading books is that it improves your mental health. Reading is a great way to keep the brain healthy and improve one’s overall mental strength and flexibility.
According to a research finding at Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, exercising the brain by taking part in activities such as reading books/magazines, writing or other mentally stimulating activities can help keep the brain healthy. The study author also made it clear that engaging in this kind of activities across a person’s lifetime is important for brain health in old age.
Also, one of the most popular issues with mental health in old age is Alzheimer’s disease. The findings of that same study also support the growing pieces of evidence that reading can help keep Alzheimer’s away.
2. In-depth knowledge
No matter how powerful a computer is, if the only thing installed on it is the operating system, then that particular computer might just be as good as useless. Let’s be real here, what can you do with a computer that has no software installed on it? No music in the music library, no movies, no book, no internet, no text editor, no … the list goes on.
You may have the most powerful computer in the world but it can only bless you in return based on what has been programmed into it. You cannot upload pop music to your computer and expect it to play jazz. Neither can you upload Ramsey Noah films on your computer and expect it to play Samuel L Jackson.
The mind is just like a computer, it can only bless you back by processing what has been programmed into it. The harsh truth is that if you programme nothing into your mind, it will simply have nothing to give back to you.
One of the benefits of reading books is that it enables us to continue to programme great things into our minds and to keep improving ourselves in order to be able to become, do and have the great things we truly want in life.
How do you become a medical doctor, a lawyer or an engineer or whatever field of profession that interests you? You programme the theoretical and practical knowledge about that chosen field into your mind. Reading multiple books on a particular field can lead you to acquire in-depth knowledge in that field. So, take up the challenge and hone your reading habit for knowledge acquisition.
3. Vocabulary expansion
It is easy to frequently find yourself wanting the right words to use to express yourself correctly if you do not have enough arrows in the quiver of your vocabulary.
If you know have the synonyms for most words programmed into your memory, you will have less trouble coming up with the right words to express yourself in a precise manner.
One of the easiest ways to expand your vocabulary is through reading books. The more books you read, the more likely it is that you get exposed to newer words and you may choose to work with a Thesaurus instead of a Dictionary each time you came across a new word so that you can be familiar with all the alternatives for that word. We also recommend any of J. Michael’s books: If Only, Black Spell, Mission 3R, and Stray Consequences, as a tool to help you build your vocabulary. The author’s writing style showcases how different words are used in different contexts. Check them out.
4. Improved memory
Another benefit of reading books regularly is that it leads to improved memory.
As you read a piece, especially if it is descriptive, you are most likely going to keep forming some mental pictures about what you are reading. These mental pictures rarely get forgotten, even long after many of the book’s contents have escaped from your memory.
Also, many times we pause in the middle of a book to take some mental notes or to memorise some particular lines or quotes. Such practices during reading help memory retention and so those lines may never leave the memory.
Finally, When you read, several brain functions are involved. Functions like visual and auditory processes, comprehension, phonemic awareness, fluency etc. These extra mental activities that are engaged during reading are good brain exercises that help keep one’s memory sharp.
5. Improved thinking skills
Basically, books don’t fall from the sky; they are written as an expression of thoughts. Thoughts are what eventually become words.
An author thinks and turns his thoughts into words, then the reader reads those words and tries to decode the writer’s thoughts. The writer sends his thoughts as words and the reader turns the words back into thoughts in order to understand the writer.
It is one thing to read, it is another thing to understand what is being communicated. For real understanding to take place, one must be engaged in one form of thinking or the other, depending on the nature of the book.
Some books require analytical thinking, some require critical thinking, some require creative thinking and some complex materials require various forms of thinking. For instance, the kind of thinkings required for understanding prose might not be helpful when used for poetry.
Simply put, the more you read, the more you develop your ability to think and analyse information. And like Tony Robbins says: “repetition is the mother of all skills.” In other words, your thinking skills will get better if you engage in thinking repeatedly (which is what reading repeatedly will birth). So, one of the benefits of reading books regularly is that it helps to improve your thinking skills.
6. Improved focus and concentration
Two of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, were said to have identified “focus” as the most important ingredient responsible for their high level of success.
Many other great men have also said almost the same thing about focus.
For instance, according to Samuel Smiles, “persons with comparatively moderate powers will accomplish much if they apply themselves wholly and indefatigably to one thing at a time.”
Robert Green wrote in his book, Mastery, that “the time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus.”
Focus and concentration go hand in hand; if you are focused at a single area at a particular time, it means you’ll be concentrating all your attention on that area at that particular time.
But we now live in a world where it can be almost impossible to stay focused and concentrate on a particular thing for as long as 10 minutes at a stretch without experiencing one form of distraction or another. If your phone doesn’t ring, you might get a new message alert or a new notification from social media, hear a beautiful advertisement from the radio, etc. all of which may grab your attention and lure you away etc.
One of the benefits of reading books regularly is that it can help increase your ability to focus and concentrate. Sometimes, while reading a good book, you can be so captivated by what you are reading that the world around you will seem to have faded into some unnoticeable distant planet. Try reading Missing 3R by J. Michael and you will feel exactly that way.
7. Improved writing skills
Reading regularly might not make you a better writer as writing regularly can but reading regularly can definitely boost your writing skills as well.
It’s already been mentioned that some of the benefits of reading regularly include vocabulary expansion, improved level of focus and concentration and increased knowledge. These are some of the qualities that good writers possess. Therefore, reading regularly can definitely equip you to become a better writer.
Reading can also expose you to different styles of writing.
This does not mean, reading will automatically turn you into a writer but rather that it can improve your writing skills. Not every great reader is a writer but great writers are great readers. So, this is another reason to start reading if you have not been doing so.
8. Enhanced imagination
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “imagination is the ability to form mental pictures of people or things, or to have new ideas.”
It is safe to say that imagination is a form of creative power. The power behind the birth of many (if not all) inventions.
That favourite movie of yours was once someone’s imagination. Those great songs on your playlists were once imagined by other people, as were the aeroplane, the telephone, electricity, etc. All these were once formed in other peoples’ subconsciousness that were made tangible via strong imaginative prowess.
This creative power of imagination is a vital ingredient for success in every industry. Many great achievements were first imagined before becoming part of someone’s vision and then a goal that became a reality.
One of the benefits of reading books is that books can take you on a voyage of imagination, stimulate the right side of your brain (the creative side) and boost your imaginative prowess.
I remember the first time I read Tell Me Your Dream by Sidney Sheldon, a novel that has much to do with multiple personality disorder. Even though there was no single picture in the book, while reading it I formed distinct mental pictures of the lead characters: Ashley Patterson, Tony Prescott and Alette Peters, on my mind.
I read that book over a decade ago, yet I still see many of the mental pictures I had created from the scenes described by the author as if I had seen those pictures in real life.
Benefits of reading summary
- Mental step up
- In-depth knowledge
- Vocabulary expansion
- Improved memory
- Improved thinking skills
- Improved focus and concentration
- Improved writing skills
- Enhanced imagination
It is understandable that you may not find reading to be enjoyable if you are just trying to start to form the habit, but that goes with the territory.
You don’t have to consume the whole book at a go; you can start by reading just a few pages at a go. What really matters, at this beginning stage, is not the number of pages you read. What matters is that you are disciplined, committed and making consistent efforts to read every day.
Sooner or later, you will realise that the few pages you started with, are no longer enough to satisfy your desire. You will find yourself reading longer and actually enjoying it.
There is no need to overthink it, just start. An easy start is any of the four books by J. Michael that we included in the articles. They are easy to read and enjoyable too so, you may just find that reading is not a chore at all but something to look forward.
Take up the challenge and happy reading!
What other reading benefits do you know of? Please share in the comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more informative articles such as this one.