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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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