I have a deep, dark secret that I’m finally ready to admit to the world. It’s hard to acknowledge, even painful in this day and age to disclose, but the truth is: I—AM—A—READER!
There, I’ve said it, gotten it off my chest and my conscience is free and clear. No longer in this day of hyper-electronic zombies will I have to hide my pain nor cower in fear of being found out.
Sometimes, I think I was born a reader. I can see myself all curled up in the womb and enjoying a good book and coming out kicking and crying at being disturbed in the middle of a good passage by birth.
Seriously, though I can’t remember my parents ever reading to me, yet I’ve been a reader since a fairly young age. I can still remember the first book I checked out of the school library: Robert Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky. I couldn’t put it down and after that, I became the kid under the blanket at 3 a.m. with flashlight in hand and poring over my latest, greatest find from the library.
I was a voracious reader, my nose always stuck in a book. My grandson, Isaac, is like that too—though I think even more so. I mean, I took breaks to eat. Isaac eats but if he gets his way, he’ll have food in one hand, and a book in the other. I sincerely hope he never loses his love of reading though I fear that today’s generation, I call them the “thumb kids” because of their fixation on electronics, will jettison reading for more time thumbing their way through texts, tweets, e-games and such.
I read a lot of different “stuff.” Fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, historical, Popular Science, Discovery, National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, blogs of various sorts, news articles, and the scriptures among other things. I even read Handyman though my wife would deny I’ve ever touched said tome according to most of my do-it-yourself fiascos. Hmm, come to think of it, fiasco is probably too forgiving a term for the devil’s work I’ve accomplished, or not, as the case may be.
That said, the other day my son Ryan and I were talking about healthy habits. He, along with his brother Stephen, run a company called Habit Technologies whose motto is: Success Starts With What You Do.
The company focuses on helping people attain both personal and business success through implementation of daily habits that lead to a lifetime of achievement.
I asked Ryan if there were any benefits, mentally, or physically to the act of reading. He did some research and posted a blog to his company’s website. With his permission, I’m sharing his thoughts below. Here’s to a better life and a lifetime of satisfying, fulfilling reading.
If You Want a Better Life, Start Reading
by Ryan S. Darby, PhD.
Everything Else Seems So Urgent
It seems, especially during the holidays, that everything in our daily world chimes, pings, dings, or rings at us—urgently demanding our attention right then, right now, or else!
However, books make no such demands on us. They sit quietly, patiently waiting for our attention. And when we do pick them up, even if it’s only for a few moments, it’s magic. Books only give. They entertain and delight, inform and teach, help us to learn and grow, bring wonder and awe, invoke emotions that penetrate the soul.
Reading Benefits the Mind and Body
Reading books, especially those that tell stories, bring amazing qualities to mind, body, and spirit:
1. Reading increases your understanding and empathy of other people.
2. Reading keeps your mind young and free. https://www.pnas.org/content/98/6/3440.full
3. Reading significantly reduces your stress. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html
4. Reading may even help you live longer. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953616303689
Simple Habits Have a Compound Effect
Amazingly enough, it doesn’t take much for those benefits to show up. One study showed that just 6 minutes of silently reading a book reduced reader’s stress levels by 68%.
Another study showed that as little as a half hour a day can add almost two more years to your life (source).
Important Things Don't Always Come with Electronic Alerts
Books won’t ever noisily cry out for our attention, demand that we read right then, or else!
No, they’ll sit patiently, waiting for us to sit down and let the magic happen.
The essential things in life don’t have electronic alerts to tell us that they are important. They just are.