In our busy lives, we are reading less and less……
Many people either have no time to read or have stopped reading. I have stopped reading for many years, confining myself to clinical textbooks, and occasional magazines.
It was not until recently that I discovered the secret to happiness is hidden in my library of books.
It started when I treated a patient. One day a patient named Jean who was from China, came for dental treatment carrying a thick literature book.
I was curious and impressed. She worked as a cashier in NTUC supermarket and I found out that she had graduated from Sichuan University. She came to Singapore to experience our culture and to pick up English. However, her work left her little opportunity for learning. She spoke good Mandarin and her book was deep in substance.
After the dental treatment, I made a transaction with her. She could teach me Mandarin and I would teach her English.
Over a year, we met once to twice a week after work in a cafe and tutored each other. I learned about Chinese idioms and phrases, about Ancient Chinese history and Philosophy. It was an enriching experience for me.
Then, we went through the storybooks that she liked. She would read aloud and I would explain where necessary and fine-tuned her pronunciations.
That was the start of my love for reading which I always felt was related to a need rather than a love.
Research has shown that reading is very important for our growth and development throughout our lives. I am not talking about any reading — gossips, memes, social media ranting, etc. I am referring to the good old book.
The benefits are;
1. Reading reduces stress and helps you to sleep better.
According to research by the University of Sussex, reading for just six minutes can reduce your stress levels by as much as 68 %
Psychologists believe that you become lost in your literary world away from the real one when you read and that relaxes your muscle tensions.
I am sure you have experienced sleepiness when you read after some time. It is the panacea for insomnia. My book fell away from me naturally as I read and sleep is induced.
But do avoid thrillers and horror stories for bedtime reading.
2 Reading motivates you.
Life has ups and downs whether you are poor or rich.
How you deal with them is in your mind and the wisdom to do so comes from the experiences and insights of authors who have gone before you.
The answers are in the books and they are tested. Whether it is fiction or fact, you can draw inferences where the situation is similar.
Dale Carnegie’s book: “How to win friends and influence people” or Napoleon Hill’s “ Think and grow rich “
These may be such old books that immediately come to my mind. They also show my lack of reading since then.
Some wise sayings from Carnegie:
Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration, and resentment.
If you want to keep happy, you have to share it.
From Napoleon Hill:
Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds
I attest to their philosophical influences on me. They have helped me greatly.
Do indulge in more self- help books especially in today’s negative world.
3 Reading staves off dementia
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
It is never too late to start reading and reap the brain benefits.
Even if started later, it can delay or prevent dementia.
Reading every day helps to preserve the language and memory longer. Why? Because you have to remember characters, scenarios, and plots when reading a novel, it is a silent training in strengthening your brain cells. Use them or lose them.
Each novel you read, you gain ideas, vocabulary, and inspiration. You fire your imagination and reading engages you so much that your brain will not age so fast.
4 Reading improves your knowledge
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only once.”
When you read about travel stories, you are experiencing life through somebody’s lenses. Places, food, the culture you may never find time to experience but you could still enjoy it. The world is full of fascinating places, because of books.
When you read about a biography, you delve into the person’s philosophy and learned how he or she handled challenges in life. I would rather be learning from someone’s mistakes than to make them.
When you read about a hobby, you piqued your interest in art and culture. A hobby is an important thing to develop as we grow older. You realize your creativity and talent when you dabble in art other than work.
You find your life long interest and that could even spark off a side career for you.
5 Reading builds discipline and character.
Once you become a reader, the whole world is your oyster. Reading takes time and temerity. If you have the patience to finish a thick book, you could complete any manual or project with ease.
You develop an admiration for the author or the character in the story which is worth emulating.
Today’s reader is tomorrow’s leader. All famous people read profusely.
When Warren Buffet was once asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Bill Gates read about 50 books a year.
Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said, “I read books.”
6 A good feel from a book.
Today, much reading is done on the screen. I feel that reading on a screen is disruptive and distracting. Advertisements pop up, sometimes the article shifts away as announcements are made and notifications from your laptop also appear. I feel less disturbed than reading from a book.
There is no radiation, no battery charge up or wifi required and is equally portable.
The touch of a book, the viewing of its cover, and thumbing through the pages give a sense of ownership that no computer can impart. Your favorite book sits on your shelf as a collectible to be passed on to your kids and theirs. It is your legacy.
In conclusion, I envision that with regular reading, I would be very informed in many aspects that I have an interest in and use them in my life.
My aim through reading is to develop more passion in life as the ‘light’ dims and still be a beacon of hope and inspiration to my children and other people.
Moreover, I will never be lonely as a book is my best friend.