With the onslaught of technology these days, reading has fallen by the wayside. Television, video games, music devices, web-casting, social media, smartphones, video-chat: all of these new-age distractions have replaced one of the most popular past-times from our parents’ and grandparents’ generation: reading.

According to a Common Sense Media survey, the rate of 17-year-olds that “never” or “hardly ever” read has tripled in the past 30 years. Some of you might shrug your shoulders as you can attest that reading seems to be less popular these days, but is it really such a big deal? After all, people are able to gather almost any information imaginable from around the world by using a simple device that resides in the palm of their hand. So this, in turn, is certainly better than reading a book that has finite information, right? Some might think so, others may not. My opinion leans toward the latter.

What are the benefits of reading and what's in it for you?

5 Fantastic Benefits of Reading

Based on an influential article by LifeHack, there are actually 10 solid benefits of reading on a regular basis. After studying the list, here are the top five that stand out:

1) Free Entertainment

Public libraries have been around for eons and almost everyone can access them at any time. In this sense, books are free entertainment. With them, you can go on a murder mystery, explore the life of Edgar Allen Poe, or simply learn how to construct a coffee table (to set your books on perhaps). Instead of spending money on an MP3 player or a brand new television, renting out books from the library can be an excellent source of entertainment and can certainly save you money in the long-run.

2) Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills

Reading is not an inherent capability. Children don’t grow up and suddenly discover how to sound out the letters that form our everyday words. No, they need to be taught, just like every one of us had to figure it out in our younger years. Reading in and of itself strengthens our brain and provides stimulation. Even beyond this though, while we read, we begin to follow a story, analyze the text, and decipher the purpose of the words that lie before us. This can be true in a mystery, a novel, or even within a biography. With each book, our ability to analyze becomes stronger and stronger.

3) Vocabulary Expansion

When I try to put thoughts into words (like I’m doing right now), I find that it’s so much simpler to do during the weeks when I’m actively reading than when I find myself caught up in Facebook or vegging in front of the television. Reading forces our minds to work, and inherently instills a new vocabulary in our brains as well. An increased vocabulary will improve your ability to understand, to teach, and might therefore lead you to an increased income. After all, the most highly paid individuals in the world have the ability to simplify complex scenarios in such a way that everyone can understand. An expanded vocabulary could be the ticket that leads you there.

4) Knowledge

This one is kind of a no-brainer – books teach us stuff. They give us knowledge. The nice part about books is that we can actually learn what we want to learn. When I hop on Netflix, I can certainly find titles that interest me, but when I look for shows on personal finance, I pretty much come up with no related titles. Either that, or there are some shows that are kind of related, but the connection is barely there.

When I go to the library, however, I can find hundreds of personal finance books from various authors – each one with their own opinions and results. If you want an in-depth answer to your broad-based question, books are the way to go.

5) Mental Stimulation

Television is great, but does it really stimulate our mind? How often have you flipped away from a TV show to find something else, and then almost immediately forgot what it was that you were watching before?! I have done this so many times, and it proves this point so easily. When we watch TV, we very nearly turn our brain off and sit in our comatose-like stupor.

On the other hand, when we read, we use our own imagination to bring those words to life! By imagining the story on the page, we are certainly stimulating our minds for the present and the future.

How will you find the time to read? Here are some tips to squeeze more out of the time you have

How to Find Time to Read

Okay, so I get that many of us are busy with life and rarely have a spare second to sit down and actually read. Have you ever stopped to think about why that is though? Why are you so busy?

Americans have the natural obsession to be productive and to fit in as much as possible into each and every day. But as Henry David Thoreau points out:

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”

Ever feel like you are running on a never-ending hamster wheel? Round and round too busy to do anything else?

Being busy does not equate to happiness. Instead, make sure that you’re intentional about your time. If someone asks you to volunteer for something and you don’t want to, simply tell them “no”. If your kids want to enroll in four different summer programs, tell them they can only pick one. If your current job requires you to work 80 hours a week and it’s killing you, look for a new one. This doesn’t have to be complicated, people. Slow down your life and pick up a book. It has proven to make many people much more happy.

This is the first lesson to fit reading into your schedule – (1) Learn to say, “no” and keep from being “too busy”. It becomes much easier to find time to read when you’re not flying around trying to get a million things done.

Secondly, learn to turn off that blasted TV. You aren’t learning much of anything, and you’re likely just turning your brain to mush. Instead, pick up a good book and start reading.

While we can say no to some things, life does still get busy. That’s where books on CD or a podcast on your mp3 player can come in handy. Instead of listening to music while you’re on the go, why not listen to something that could enhance your brain, save you money, or even earn you a larger income? When can you find time to do this?

  • In the car as you drive to and from work, or while you cart your kids around this summer
  • While you exercise. Educational audio can actually be a great distraction during a run!
  • While at work. If you sit at a desk all day, perhaps you can listen to some great audio books while you work.

Want to improve your comprehension? Want to speak more intelligently? Want to talk about something other than the latest reality TV show? Then read. Not only will it improve your mind, but the information you learn will likely pad your pockets as well.

Are you ready to start reading today?

Derek Sall
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