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7 Benefits Of Reading Literary Fiction You May Not Know

7 Benefits Of Reading Literary Fiction You May Not Know

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”
– John Green

What happened to literary fiction?

Reality television, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook have taken all our time away from where our hearts once begged to be – in the middle of an incredible story. We fervently turned each page while missing breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner just to see what would happen next.

Now it’s hard for us to even open a book.

Maybe it’s our attention span.

Recent research showed that the average human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000, to eight seconds. We can’t sit still enough to read books. Instead, we pick up a book only to then take out our phones and endlessly scroll. When we stop scrolling, we forget why we picked up the book in the first place.

We’ve forgotten the special memories that come from reading literary fiction: when we stayed in bed on a beautiful day just to finish a book, went late to class because of a chapter that just had to be finished, and the moments we escaped from our unsettling moods to jump into an unexpected journey.

The beautiful stories that lie in literary fiction are awaiting us; we just need to realize that they never left. It starts with understanding the reasons we should starting picking up great literary fiction books again.

To give you the motivation to lose yourself in a beautiful story once again, here are seven benefits of reading literary fiction:

1. Amplifies your creativity

Your imagination thrives off art. Literary fiction is an awe-inspiring example of art because it allows significant room for interpretation. Simply put: You’re given a direction, but you create the path. With expanded creativity, you find new ideas that can take any project to the next level.

2. Discover your hero

In most fiction stories, there’s a protagonist who overcomes obstacles against all odds to become a hero. In fact, these stories enable us to feel like we’re experiencing the journey in the shoes of the characters. As a result, they give us the courage to become our own heroes whether that means helping our family or chasing a startup vision.

A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, analyzing fMRI brain scans, showed that when participants read about an experience, they exhibit stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they live through that experience themselves.

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3. Helps you empathize

Empathy is one of the must-needed qualities for leaders and entrepreneurs. In 2013, an influential study published in Science found that reading literary fiction improved participants’ results on tests that measured social perception and empathy.

When we read stories, we’re free from peer judgment when responding to what happens to the invented characters. Correspondingly, we tend to show more real emotion. This exhibit of emotion is not lost but retained and slowly worked into our everyday lives making us increasingly genuine.

4. Helps you find yourself

Since our real emotions are clouded under peer pressure, we find ourselves not only discovering our true emotions when reading but wants and needs. When we read, the chains of social pressure are released, and we find ourselves looking at life in the perspective we’ve always believed to be true but hid from ourselves and others. This helps us realize our most important priorities including goals for success.

It’s time to set ourselves free.

5. Learn how to approach new obstacles

As characters learn how to approach and overcome obstacles, they share that experience with us. So, when we face similar challenges in our lives we know how rise above these challenges already.

Taking a new and more effective approach to the obstacles found in our everyday lives is powerful. Inspired by the famous work of Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist, many people changed the way they perceive obstacles and the journey of life.

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A more notable quote from the book,

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

6. Learn to have superior focus

If we can sit down and work for a half hour, that’s considered focused in today’s ADD world. Now, we need to be hyper focused to achieve success and to create incredible works of art. There are countless focus-improving tools, but they don’t mean much if we can’t realize the benefits.

We need to practice. It starts with reading, specifically literary fiction because it moves us in different directions. Unlike regular fiction books, literary fiction involves more ideas, prose, and emotion from the writer, tending to create a narrative with few bounds. Mainstream fiction is more clearly structured making it less beneficial because it’s easier to concentrate, ride the ups and downs of the plot, and follow the protagonist with each page flip.

If you can learn to focus while reading literary fiction books, then your productivity will never be chained to social media, texting, and negativity.

7. Gives you inner peace

Reading can give you a sense of calm in just minutes. A 2009 study by the University of Sussex showed that reading for six minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. The best part is that literary fiction concentrates less on developing a plot, letting your mind wander and relax.

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Regular readers also sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.

“…by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis told The Telegraph.

Even though reading has many benefits, it does come down to whether the individual reader takes advantage of them.

In Suzanne Keen’s 2007 book, Empathy and the Novel, she notes, “Books can’t make change by themselves—and not everyone feels certain that they ought to.” She continues to write, “As any bookworm knows, readers can also seem antisocial and indolent.”

If you’re ready to bring the remarkable effects of reading literary fiction into your life, then you need to begin reading now because the hardest part is starting.

So, at first, focus on completing just one book, and you’ll notice the incredible benefits that will result in the momentum to eventually becoming an avid reader.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

When you learn how to be confident, you can use it in your everyday life to tackle all of your goals and challenges. However, not many people realize that learning how to gain self-confidence is like building a muscle—it grows in response to the level of performance required of it.

Here I will give you 51 proven ways to overcome a lack of self-confidence and achieve more.

1. Learn Something New

Sign up for that evening class and enjoy it. Alternatively, read a book (or take an online course) on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about.

Learning new things stretches your abilities, keeps your mind active, and most definitely improves your confidence in your ability to do new things.

2. Ask Your Partner or a Friend What You Can Do For Them

This can be something as easy as helping them with a chore they don’t like or have little time for. Through helping them, you’ll find that you feel better about yourself.

3. Hit the Gym

The physiological effects of going to the gym will leave you feeling great.

Countless studies have shown that regular workouts at the gym can boost not only your sense of well-being, but can increase your self-esteem, too[1].

4. Go to a Networking Event

Rather than being nervous about your own stuff, focus on how to help others. Instead of going along with the aim of trying to sell yourself to others, why not change your approach and simply go along to see how you can help the people you meet?

By doing this, you’ll come across as calm, confident, and someone that people will want to turn to again and again.

5. Get Clear on the Things That Matter to You

If these things are not in your life, you’ll need to bring them in.

For example, if your daily work routine is currently as dull as dishwater—but you’d like it to be fun—then do something about it. Turn data entry into personal speed contests, paper filing into “screen-free” time, and interactions with your colleagues into enjoyable conversations.

6. Remove Negativity From Your Life

Write a list of the things you’re tolerating and putting up with in your life, then write down how you can remove, minimize, or diminish each one.

I personally like to do this with pen and paper as it feels just a little more real and definite than on screen. It’s also a good idea to put the priority items at the top of your list, so you can begin resolving these first.

7. Celebrate Your Big and Small Wins

Look at the big or small goals you’ve completed, and give yourself credit for your part in it.

Recognizing your achievements is not egotistical, it’s healthy.

8. Converse With New People

Go and have a conversation with someone you don’t know. By doing this, you may be pleasantly surprised by what—or who—you’ll discover.

You can also extend this trait by breaking outside of your normal social situations at your workplace. This will do wonders when learning how to be confident.

9. Do Something You Would Normally Say No to

Next time you talk yourself out of doing something (a party invite, a challenging project, etc.), go and do it anyway. This is a great way to boost personal development.

10. Do One Thing Each Day That Makes You Smile

This could be something as simple as sending a thank you email to a colleague that has been helpful to you, or leaving a surprise present for your partner that they’ll discover when they wake up.

Life shouldn’t be drudgery, and we all need to make the effort to keep it light, loving, and fun.

11. Give Yourself Good Advice

Look for the patterns of thought that take you to a place where you start second-guessing or overthinking.

Now imagine that your best friend went through exactly the same thought process and ended up holding themselves back—what would you want to say to them?

This is known as Soloman’s Paradox—we’re often quite good at solving others’ problems but not our own. Challenge this and take your own good advice next time[2].

12. Ask Someone on a Date

If you’re single and have met someone that you’re definitely attracted to—go ahead and ask them out.

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Even if they turn you down, it will help you learn how to be confident through the fact that you were decisive and made an effort. What’s the best thing that could happen? They might just say yes!

13. Write Down 20 Things That Make You Feel Good

Think of this as a gratitude list. Typical things you might include are: your partner, your kids, your parents, your pets, etc.

I recommend writing this list at least once a month. And most importantly—make sure you’re giving the 20 things plenty of room in your life.

14. Stop Playing Different Roles

Stop playing different roles and squeezing yourself into boxes based on what you think people expect of you.

Be your authentic self, the one who knows what to do and loves what they do. It’s easy to find this part of yourself as it’s inherent in your hobbies and your close friendships.

If you can bring this authenticity into your work life, you’ll be surprised at how positively others will react to you.

15. Cultivate a Positive Mindset

Learn to catch yourself every time you tell yourself that you can’t have, won’t get, or aren’t good enough to get what you want[3].

Talk yourself up when learning how to be confident.

    Instead, tell yourself that you can have, will get, and are good enough to get what you want. Mindset is everything. Make sure yours is positive and dynamic.

    16. Take Yourself off Auto-Pilot

    Make deliberate decisions on what really matters to you.

    For instance, if you normally work 9 to 5 but find yourself spending hours getting to and from work, why not negotiate with your boss to mix your hours up a bit?

    You might also suggest a day or two working from home. Sell this to your boss by reminding them that the time and stress lost to commuting can be neatly transferred to productive work hours.

    17. Listen Carefully to What You Tell Yourself

    Next time you come up against a risk or a challenge, listen to what you tell yourself, and look for a way to improve your inner dialogue.

    If you normally find that your inner dialogue is negative, then break out of this by asking yourself questions such as:

    • What would make this easier?
    • Is there a different way of doing this?
    • Could research help?

    18. Laugh at Yourself

    Scared of looking silly? It’s no biggie, so don’t let it stop you.

    Whenever we try something new, there’s a fair chance that we’ll make fools of ourselves. But you’d be a bigger fool to let that stop you. Instead, laugh at your baby steps and watch your confidence soar as you begin to master your chosen activity.

    19. Listen to Your Doubts

    Sometimes your doubts are there to let you know what you need to prepare for, so you can use them to your benefit as you move forwards. Other times, they are just doubts.

    The trick is to quickly determine if your doubts have validity. If they do, use them to shape your decisions.

    To illustrate this, imagine that you’ve had an enticing job offer, but you doubt whether you’re capable of doing the job. Spend a little time analyzing your doubts to see whether they reflect reality, or whether they are just negative thoughts that are trying to hold you back.

    20. Recall a Time When You Did a Great Job

    Think of a time when it felt like a whole bank of switches in your head flicked to the on position, and you were firing on all cylinders. What were you doing, and what’s the reason it felt so great? Can you emulate that passion and drive that you had?

    21. Tear up Your Rule Book

    You may not know it, but you’ve almost certainly got a whole bunch of outdated rules that determine what you do and don’t do. These rules limit your thinking and your behavior.

    It’s time to change them. Tear up this subconscious rule book and toss it in the fire. Once you’ve done this, you’ll immediately notice how free you feel to make challenging and exciting decisions.

    22. Ask Yourself What You Have Gained When You Lose

    Do you get annoyed with yourself because you didn’t make the most of something or stepped back from an opportunity?

    Firstly, don’t beat yourself up because that’s just going to make you feel worse. Instead, be brutally honest and ask yourself what you gained from the situation and what you lost out on.

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    Based on this win/lose balance, what’s a different choice you can make next time?

    23. Don’t Let People Put You Down

    If there’s someone in your life who puts you down or makes you feel small, you owe it to yourself to let them know that you expect something different from now on. 

    Trust me, once you’ve told them, they’ll change, and you will, too. Inevitably, you’ll boost both your confidence and happiness by taking control of your life in this way.

    Learn how to get out of toxic relationships in this article.

    24. Reveal a Little Bit of the Real You

    Relationships can be difficult. They can also lose their zest and become stale. If this happens in your relationship, then it’s time to add some magic to the mix.

    Try revealing something interesting about yourself or your past that your partner doesn’t currently know when learning how to be confident. Perhaps you never mentioned to them that you used to play in a rock band—and you still have the recordings to prove it!

    By adding new things to your relationship, you’ll deepen the bond and keep the spark alive.

    25. Be Your Own Hero

    Recognize that you’re more than a match for any situation you might find yourself in—no matter how tough the going gets.

    We all love movies like Die Hard where ordinary people are driven to super-ordinary feats. But here’s the rub: you can be your own action hero.

    Whatever the situation, meet it head on and overcome it. Keep in mind the classic phrase: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

    26. Don’t Give in to the Instant Pay-off

    If I was to offer you $100 now for a day’s work tomorrow or $110 for the same work, but I won’t pay you for a week, which would you choose? Well, I can’t read your mind, but I do know that studies using a similar question to this have found that most people choose the instant, smaller payment over the latter, bigger payment. It seems that we’re hardwired for instant gratification.

    However, if you want to be a success in life, always look at the bigger picture. In the example above, if you could have only waited seven more days, you would have been $10 richer!

    27. Instead of Yelling “I Deserve Better,” Say “I Can Be Better”

    Too often I hear people complaining about their personal circumstances but refusing to do anything about it. Don’t be like them.

    If things aren’t going your way, find solutions and implement them. Your boldness and decisiveness will boost your confidence and help you rapidly climb the ladder of success.

    28. Admit You’re Wrong

    It may not be easy, but you should always be prepared to hold your hands up and change your mind if things are going south. Not every idea you have will be a winning one. The trick is to know when things are clearly not working out.

    You can either attempt to get them back on track or kill them off completely (sometimes that’s the best way).

    29. Trust Your Instincts

    We all have our gut feelings and intuitions, but many people choose to ignore them and rely only on facts, facts, and more facts! While this may work for many scenarios, there will be other times when you’ll need to rely on your instincts.

    30. Imagine Your Confident Future Self

    Imagine you’re visited by a successful, confident, attractive, and vibrant version of you from the future, a version of you who’s everything you hope to be. What do they want to tell you?

    They might praise your efforts, but they may also criticize your lack of planning and weak goals.

    Luckily, if you listen closely to what they tell you, you’ll be able to rapidly shift gears in your life and become the you of the future!

    31. Ask for Help

    This is a common issue. We take on way too many responsibilities and end up either burning ourselves out or just doing a bad job!

    The secret is to put the vast majority of your energy and efforts into what you do well. Give the stuff you don’t do well to others who have a gift for it. Sometimes the most confident and effective thing to do is ask for help.

    32. Be Around People Who Make You Feel Like You

    Do this by spending more time with the people who support and encourage you and less time with those who undermine you.

    At work, don’t be ruined by negative, petty people. Instead, make sure you surround yourself with colleagues who make you laugh and feel good about yourself.

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    33. Participate in the World Around You

    Ask yourself this question: “What can I participate in that’s important to me?”

    Typically, this could be your church, a sports club, or even just a weekly get together with your best friend.

    34. Develop Skills to Work on Things That Matter to You

    What can you practice that would radically improve your chances of winning?

    If you want to climb the corporate ladder, for example, then develop the skills needed to do this. These might include: effective project management skills, powerful presentation abilities, and superb goal setting skills.

    Of course, don’t forget that emulating those who have already achieved your goal is one of the quickest and most reliable ways for you to achieve your aims, too.

    35. Act Until You Make It

    The body is a mirror for the mind, so shifting your body language into a confident state can have surprising results.

    This is all about acting. If you want to come across as tough, act tough. If you want to come across as successful, act successful. And if you want to come across as confident, act confident.

    Try doing these things, and you’ll be amazed by the results.

    36. Push Through When You Want to Give up

    Don’t get disheartened or demotivated when you get to 90% with something you’re working on. Push through, and you’ll see that the last 10% is where the magic happens.

    37. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

    Keep comparing yourself to others? Stop it. If you want to learn how to be confident, don’t try to validate yourself through comparison—you’re just peachy as you are.

    Social media often makes this difficult. Try stepping away from your Facebook page for a few days and reconnect with the great things in your own life.

    You can get started with this guide.

    38. Speak up When You Can Make a Difference

    Speak up if there’s something you think could be improved or if you have an idea you think has legs.

    Have you noticed that quiet people at work rarely get the promotions? It’s not that they are incapable or lacking talent, but their abilities are usually overlooked as they don’t know how to engage with others or how to sell themselves.

    Step out of your comfort zone and be sure that you’re an active player. Speak up in meetings by suggesting ideas and offering constructive criticism.

    39. Stop Struggling and Start Accepting

    If there’s something you’ve been struggling to understand for a while, stop trying to understand it. Accept it just as it is, fully and wholly.

    Life offers endless mysteries. If you try to resolve them all you’ll drive yourself insane. Instead, let some mysteries remain, and keep your mind focused on your goals and dreams.

    40. It’s Okay to Be Shy

    There’s nothing wrong with being shy, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a confident person.

    If you suffer from shyness, you might think it’s a major weakness of yours. However, introverted people have the edge in many ways, such as: they’re first-rate listeners, they have excellent observational skills, and they’re easier to trust[4].

    41. Clean up Your Environment

    Your environment directly impacts your self-perception. So, if you’re surrounded by clutter, paperwork, and rubbish, put a morning aside to clean up your stuff and get organized.

    42. Write a List of Things You Would Love to Do

    Write yourself a list of the amazing things you’d love to do in your life, and make a start by simply looking into the first one or two things that leap out at you. This will help you get started as you learn how to be confident

    Even if you don’t currently have the means to live your dreams, you can, at the very least, make a start. The best way to do this is to write out the things you’d love to do. These may include cool stuff, such as travelling the world, learning a new language, or climbing a mountain.

    Once you’ve added the items to your list, don’t stop there. Begin researching and preparing ways to turn your dreams into realities.

    43. Make Your Self-Worth Independent From Others’ Validation

    Don’t make your happiness or self-worth dependent on being in a relationship or being validated by someone else.

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    While it’s difficult to admit it, we often find ourselves rating our self-esteem by the value other people put on us.

    For instance, you may have a super-positive boss who is always encouraging and supportive. They make you feel upbeat and confident at all times.

    However, imagine if they left and your new boss was the complete opposite. They constantly look for faults in your work and regularly criticize you. Would you still feel confident in those circumstances?

    If you’ve answered no, then you need to reappraise your self-worth, as it shouldn’t be dependent on the validation of others.

    44. Use Your Strengths

    We all have our weaknesses, but they only undermine your confidence if you let them.

    For instance, are you aware that Virgin’s founder Richard Branson suffers from dyslexia? He never let this hold him back or destroy his confidence. Today, he is one of the world’s most successful men, with a net worth of approximately $5 billion[5].

    45. Complete a To-Do List

    The longer you leave that big thing on your to-do list, the more it’ll drain you, and the bigger it’ll seem. Get it done and free yourself up.

    If you have a big goal, break it down into smaller tasks. For instance, instead of trying to write a whole chapter of your book in one go, how about just writing the opening paragraph?

    46. Treat Your Body Well

    When learning how to be confident, our body image does matter, because if you have a bad relationship with your body, you won’t feel confident in yourself.

    What’s one of the first things most of us do when we get up in the morning? We look in the mirror. If we don’t like what we see there, then our day starts off with negative self-talk. If, on the other hand, we look in the mirror and feel proud of our appearance, then we start the day off in an upbeat, positive way.

    If you’re unhappy with your body and looks, do something to improve them. Exercise, diet, and styling are common ways of improving your body image—and your confidence.

    47. Learn to Say No

    Don’t say yes to taking on a task simply because you don’t want to rock the boat. You can politely decline requests you can’t meet without needing to create excuses.

    While saying yes to everything that comes your way might feel like you’re being helpful and in demand, in the long run, you’ll burn yourself out.

    48. Learn From Confident People

    Look at the people you respect who seem confident. Don’t copy them, but identify what it is they do differently that conveys confidence and what you can learn from it.

    People-watching is not only fun, but it can be informative, too. Look closely at successful people you know, or those being interviewed on TV, and over time you’ll begin to notice common traits, beliefs, and behaviors that they exhibit.

    49. Follow Through on Your Plans

    Most people find it easy to write plans. The hard part, of course, is seeing them through. To stand out from the crowd, make sure that you know exactly how to complete your plans.

    If you need to, write down a step-by-step guide and begin following it. Not only will this drive you towards the completion of your plans—but experiencing the progress will also give you a continuous boost to your self-esteem.

    50. Shift Your Focus When You Doubt Yourself

    When you feel yourself focusing inwards and becoming paralyzed with doubt or fear, switch to focusing outwards at what you can engage and interact with.

    I remember one of my writing tutors telling me that when the words stop flowing, it’s time to take a break— preferably a walk in the park. It’s sound advice as it’s very easy to get caught up with our thoughts and emotions and be unable to make progress.

    51. Never Beat Yourself up for Failing

    Life is guaranteed to not always be a barrel of laughs. Instead, it’s much more like a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs, so ride them out.

    The art of living is to know how to handle whatever comes you way. The best way to achieve this is by developing an iron core that is unhindered by the topsy-turvy outside world.

    Final Thoughts

    Here I’ve given you 51 different ways to start building self-confidence Take action on the ways that you’re drawn to.

    It’s not enough to read about them. For them to work, you must adopt them into your daily life. Do this, and you’ll start to feel your confidence soar.

    More on How to Be Confident

    Featured photo credit: Matheus Ferrero via unsplash.com

    Reference

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