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7 Hacks To Mastering Reading As The Ultimate Secret To Success

7 Hacks To Mastering Reading As The Ultimate Secret To Success

My secret to success is reading. Our mind is an amazing gift and the beauty of this secret weapon is similar to the accumulation of wealth. I read over 100 books a year and grow significantly from every one of them. Through reading we experience exponential growth through the accumulation of knowledge. The more we know, the more we are capable of knowing.

Successful people develop a hunger for growth and make reading a secret weapon towards success. Here are seven ways to hack reading and make it your secret weapon.

1. Read when your mind is at its peak.

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

What time of the day are you at your best? When is your mind alert and at its peak? Reading breeds creativity. It’s as if ideas are transported to our minds when we read. I am up early and some of my best reading takes place first thing in the morning. However, the best time for me to read is right after a long run.

Figure out when your mind is at its peak. Find that time of the day and do everything humanly possible to read at that exact time.

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2. Plug-in and listen to audiobooks.

“Never wish life were easier, wish that you were better.” – Jim Rohn

I am always plugged in. Just ask my wife, I am always listening to an audiobook. One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is during a long run while I’m listening to audiobooks. With audiobooks, you can speed up the recording and complete books even faster. I am able to listen to audiobooks at 2x the speed. This is extremely beneficial when completing long runs, such as a marathon.

You can maximize your time through audiobooks. Think about all the time we spend moving from one location to another. I listen to audiobooks while I exercise, while driving, while stuck in traffic, while in the shower, and while doing household and outdoor chores.

3. Start reading as young as possible.

“Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” – St. Francis Xaiver

One of my most cherished moments in life is the first time I read to my beautiful little girl. Our family color is purple and we are from Kansas, so naturally we are huge Kansas State University Wildcat fans (and graduates). The first book I read to my daughter was Bill Snyder: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done by Mark Jansen and legendary KSU coach Bill Snyder.

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The earlier you start reading to your child, the better. In fact, read to your child while he or she is still in the womb. The best time to teach your child to read is from zero to three years of age. Glenn Doman, author of How to Teach Your Baby to Read declared, “Not only is it possible to teach your babies to read; it’s a great deal easier to teach babies to read than it is to teach six-year-olds.”

4. Find the right book when applying for a job.

“The only thing that hurts harder than a failure is not trying.” – Apoorve Dubey

The best way to prepare for a job interview is to find a book related to the profession. Or better yet, find a book penned by the CEO of that same organization. For example, if you are applying for a job in process improvement or manufacturing, find the audiobook version of The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. Listen to the audiobook during every available opportunity. Before you realize it, you will be discussing principles in the book and will appear as an expert.

This will also put you ahead in your profession. You will be amazed just how little people read, especially books in their profession.

5. Read books that expand your creative mind.

“It is only through a human’s effort that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

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It is amazing how ideas pop in and out of our mind. One of the best ways to get your mind in its creative peak, other than trying something illegal, is to read completely mind-blowing and strange books. I purposely go to the weirdest areas of a bookstore and find books that are exceptionally crazy. You do not have to believe everything you read in these books, however, they will get your creative juices flowing.

“Ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners. When an idea thinks it has found somebody who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. The idea will organize coincidences and portents to tumble across your path, to keep your interest keen. You will start to notice all sorts of signs pointing you toward the idea. Everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea. The idea will wake you up in the middle of the night and distract you from your everyday routine. The idea will not leave you alone until it has your fullest attention.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Some crazy books include: The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin, Brave New World and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, Entangled: The Eater of Souls by Graham Hancock, and DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman.

6. Read books that establish your philosophy.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Books will not only transport you to the world of crazy creativity, they will also assist you in establishing your philosophy. It was not until recently that I had a clear vision of my political and social philosophy. I wouldn’t have formulated my philosophy without books. They helped me discover and put words into how I see life.

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Two powerful books that helped me establish my philosophy were both by author Ayn Rand. They were Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

7. Read books before, during, and after you exercise.

“Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now.”

When we exercise, our brain produces a nerve growth factor called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that stimulates neurogenesis, which is the growth of brain cells and synapses in the brain. Think of how you conduct an exercise routine. For example, I run for one hour every morning. I stretch prior to the run, perform the run, then cool down. Think of your brain. Prior to the run, I am preparing my mind and body. During the run, I am stimulating the production of BDNF, leading to neurogenesis. After the run, my brain is firing on all cylinders and is at its peak and ready to grow. I listen to audiobooks this entire time. I do this in order to keep my neuronal wiring strong.

Your brain is like a muscle and it needs to be used and exercised. Visualize improving your bicep muscle. Your tool is the weight, you stretch the bicep prior to the exercise, you conduct the exercise, then you cool down and the muscle becomes stronger. Now visualize your brain. Your tool in this instance is an audiobook. You prep your brain, you perform the exercise while listening to your tool, then you cool down, and the brain grows and becomes stronger.

Featured photo credit: IMDB via imdb.com

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Dr. Jamie Schwandt

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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