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Last Updated on March 17, 2020

10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day

10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day

When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant oatmeal packet?

If you’re one of countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out.

Reading has a significant number of benefits, and here’re 10 benefits of reading to get you to start reading.

VIDEO SUMMARY

1. Mental Stimulation

Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia,[1] since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power.

Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. Doing puzzles and playing games such as chess have also been found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.[2]

2. Stress Reduction

No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

3. Knowledge

    Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.

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    Additionally, here’s a bit of food for thought: should you ever find yourself in dire circumstances, remember that although you might lose everything else—your job, your possessions, your money, even your health—knowledge can never be taken from you.

    4. Vocabulary Expansion

    This goes with the above topic:

    The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary.

    Being articulate and well-spoken is of great help in any profession, and knowing that you can speak to higher-ups with self-confidence can be an enormous boost to your self-esteem. It could even aid in your career, as those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly (and more often) than those with smaller vocabularies and lack of awareness of literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events.

    Reading books is also vital for learning new languages, as non-native speakers gain exposure to words used in context, which will ameliorate their own speaking and writing fluency.

    5. Memory Improvement

      When you read a book, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. That’s a fair bit to remember, but brains are marvellous things and can remember these things with relative ease.

      Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways)[3] and strengthens existing ones, which assists in short-term memory recall as well as stabilizing moods.[4] How cool is that?

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      If you want to learn more about how to increase brain power, boost memory and become 10x smarter, check out this technique!

      6. Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills

      Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine “whodunnit”.

      That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well-written piece, if the characters were properly developed, if the storyline ran smoothly, etc.

      Should you ever have an opportunity to discuss the book with others, you’ll be able to state your opinions clearly, as you’ve taken the time to really consider all the aspects involved.

      7. Improved Focus and Concentration

        In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task through every day.

        In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people (via gchat, skype, etc.), keeping an eye on twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. This type of ADD-like behaviour causes stress levels to rise, and lowers our productivity.

        When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the story—the rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail you’re absorbing.

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        Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work (i.e. on your morning commute, if you take public transit), and you’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

        Additional information: if you find staying focus hard and re trying to improve your focus, it’s possible you’ve been doing it wrong.

        8. Better Writing Skills

        This goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of your vocabulary:

        Exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work.

        In the same way that musicians influence one another and painters use techniques established by previous masters, so do writers learn how to craft prose by reading the works of others.

        9. Tranquility

          In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it’s possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility.

          Reading spiritual texts can lower blood pressure and bring about an immense sense of calm, while reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illnesses.[5]

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          10. Free Entertainment

          Though many of us like to buy books so we can annotate them and dog-ear pages for future reference, they can be quite pricey.

          For low-budget entertainment, you can visit your local library and bask in the glory of the countless tomes available there for free. Libraries have books on every subject imaginable, and since they rotate their stock and constantly get new books, you’ll never run out of reading materials.

          If you happen to live in an area that doesn’t have a local library, or if you’re mobility-impaired and can’t get to one easily, most libraries have their books available in PDF or ePub format so you can read them on your e-reader, iPad, or your computer screen.

          There are also many sources online where you can download free e-books, so go hunting for something new to read!

          There’s a reading genre for every literate person on the planet, and whether your tastes lie in classical literature, poetry, fashion magazines, biographies, religious texts, young adult books, self-help guides, street lit, or romance novels, there’s something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination.

          Step away from your computer for a little while, crack open a book, and replenish your soul for a little while.

          What to Read Next?

          If you need some ideas about what to read next, here they are:

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] abc news: Reading, Chess May Help Fight Alzheimer’s
          [2] Fisher Center For Alzheimer’s Research Foundation: Mental Stimulation Slows Alzheimer’s Progression
          [3] VeryWellMind: 10 Interesting Human Memory Facts You Should Know
          [4] Oprah: How Reading Improves Memory
          [5] The Wall Street Journal: Bibliotherapy: Reading Your Way To Mental Health

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          Catherine Winter

          Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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          Last Updated on August 13, 2020

          12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

          12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

          As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

          1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

          I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

          Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

          Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

          2. What is the purpose of meditation?

          The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

          It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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          Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

          In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

          You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

          This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

          The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

          Less Physical, More Psychological

          Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

          This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

          The First Benefit of Meditation

          The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

          1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
          2. Relaxation of the body

          Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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          Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

          That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

          When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

          When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

          Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

          Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

          This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

          Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

          Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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          This benefit takes you to the second one.

          The Second Benefit of Meditation

          While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

          1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
          2. Observance
          3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
          4. Patience

          Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

          You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

          This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

          1. Energy

          Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

          2. Observance

          The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

          3. Peacefulness

          Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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          4. Patience

          The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

          The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

          Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

          Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

          The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

          • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
          • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
          • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
          • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
          • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
          • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

          These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

          Final Thoughts

          Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

          Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

          Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

          More on Meditation

          Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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